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Woody Brubaker: Blog

Confidence

Posted on October 18, 2015 with 4 comments

When you’re a young person confidence isn’t something that creeps into your vocabulary.  You’re more cocky and brazen and not really thinking about the demeanor that you should have.  This can get you into a lot of trouble.  It got me into trouble, at times.  When you’re younger, you have so much to prove. You’re excited to be playing music.  When you reach an acceptable level of proficiency, you expect to be accepted into the world inhabited by the other musicians.  What you’re not aware of is that there are other dynamics in play.  Maybe the other players don’t want you around.  Maybe you’re a little better then they, maybe you pose some kind of a threat to their employment or maybe, you’re not quite up to their standards.  The latter is subject to a wide range of opinions. The word I hear a lot of is jealousy.  I don’t like to use this word.  I was told at a young age that this word does not have a place in our profession, aside from the biblical connotations. But as I grew older I found out that this “sin” was pretty common among musicians, even those of higher proficiency levels.  I know, there are those who will say that this isn’t true.  These are probably the people who instigate this kind of attitude. I have certainly been on the receiving end of this treatment.  But, my confidence level is pretty high at this point in my life.  I don’t address these kinds of attitudes any longer.  I remember an incident at a very upscale restaurant where I worked and on occasion, musicians from other parts of the country would come in and eventually play a couple of songs.  I heard some great musicians.  Someone asked me once, during one of these performances, if I was jealous of these musicians. I replied, “No. Bring ‘em on.  I love to hear great players.”  If you have paid attention from an early age, you realize that the musicians that you listened to, to learn, were the exact musicians that you wanted to emulate.  That’s how you build your self confidence.  I have noticed that many young players today have not made the connection between what they hear and how they should play.  They all seem to think they know it all. There have been a number of incidents where younger players seem to be insulted if you say anything about their playing and made a suggestion about how to change something in their technique. They haven’t learned how to be humble. They haven’t reached a level where they have attained that confidence. They’re still working on a brazen level of cockiness.  We more experienced players are always happy to give someone a push here and there.  The problem is, more often than not, they don’t want the help.  There was another incident in a club where we were showing respect for a fellow musician.  It came time to play a Dixieland song and we asked the two younger players sitting in to march around the room in a New Orleans style “second line” routine.  They refused saying, “We’re not going to do that s**t.”  Careful fellows; what you say may come back to haunt you. Point made.

Joe Ibanez

October 18, 2015

Quite true, Woody. I can recall my own genesis as a budding musician and bravado can take you only so far. Luckily I was "put in my place" by a very caring and energetic mentor. From that point on my musical universe became more intimate and explosive.

Vernie Johns

October 18, 2015

What you say is true Woody...and that includes singers. What many musicians don't realize is, they can be a great influence to those learning the ropes. What's better than being a good example of generosity, patience and willingness. I still remember some of them from when I first started.

Patrick Hulsman

October 18, 2015

Woody,
Nice blog, Interesting points. But, frankly, I think you have nothing to worry about. I remember when you joined us at the Wright-Patt Band. You had lots of confidence. You were a fine player.. But, then you blew us away with your arranging. You need to know how much fun it was to play your music and how special you made the band's repertoire with your work. Very cool, man! Thrive!!

Mike Lorenz

October 18, 2015

Never say anything bad about someone in your profession, it always comes back to haunt you.