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Summertime, and the Gigging is Easy…

Mike Lawson • Perspective • July 14, 2017

School is out, many of you are involved in busy summer band programs, band camps and the like.

And some of you are taking a well-deserved break from teaching and enjoying your summer. A common theme over the past few issues has been the importance of continuing to make music beyond the years a student is in school learning the craft. One of the ways we see this done is through community bands, which are found all over the country. Another way is through alumni bands, which provide an opportunity for various generations of former students to come together, some many years after their schooling is complete, and perform together. Depending on the community you live in, you may even find a myriad of opportunities to perform in other venues, from local parks hosting holiday celebrations, to churches, or nightclubs, private events, or more.

Throughout my career as a publisher, editor, and author, I have never stopped performing. The love of music was written in my soul with an indelible ink when I was a child. From my earliest childhood memories of singing in a community or church chorus, to the first time I took to the stage as a precocious 11-year-old having finagled my way into a band of Jr. high students after I booked them a gig on the condition that I got to play it with them. Performing is what I do to this day to express the love of the music so many music teachers instilled in my eager, young heart as a child. I didn’t wake up one day as a kid and say, “I want to be an editor!” I never sat around thinking, “I want to write books and publish them for other writers.” My entire motivation around my publishing career has been the love of music, publishing books, videos, directories, legal resource materials, and periodicals that would help others pursue their love of music making. I have no interest in publishing outside of the subject of music.

At some point, every teacher had a similar impetus. Most people don’t wake up and say, “Hey, I want to be a teacher, what should I teach?” and then chose music. Music chose them first. And they embraced it. That embracing meant many hours of practice, rehearsals, and ultimately, performing. Performance is the ultimate goal of any musician.

What is the point of training and memorizing, or diligently learning to site read, if not performance? Do you still perform? Do you seek out opportunities to do what you love outside of school, your band room, out in your community? If so, rock on! If not, it is time to get back in the swing of things, rediscover your muse, join a group, and book a solo performance if your instrument of choice works for that (not a lot of solo gigs for trombonists, I’m afraid). Put a combo together, a string quartet, a chamber orchestra — anything that helps remind you how you wound up in the often-stressful world of education, even in a subject you love. Book a gig before the summer is over. Find a local band to sit in with, if you’re an improviser. Have fun! I know I will.

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