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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Abraham Lincoln's Insights into the Music Business

Andrew Hitz

"I'll study and get ready and be prepared for my opportunity when it comes." -Abraham Lincoln

Whether you are an aspiring band director or trying to earn a living as a player, real opportunities don't come around all that often.  And when one does, you must be ready to pounce.

Sam Pilafian Student Abraham Lincoln

Ask yourself this question: if your dream job were to come calling today, are you ready? The key word is today.  If the answer to that question is in any way no, ask yourself what exactly you are not ready for and plan a course of action to address it immediately.

The Chicago Symphony doesn't call you two weeks ahead of time to let you know that someone will be sick and need a sub.  Your ideal school district you've been trying break into won't necessarily call you a month in advance to let you know they need someone to fill in for the rest of the year.  You need to be ready for opportunities like that right now since they don't come around very often.

When I was 14 years old, Sam Pilafian told me that to make it in the music business you need three things: a lot of talent, a lot of hard work, and a lot of luck.  He explained luck as being in the right place at the right time.  You have to get that call in the first place to show people what you can do.  But he stressed that the hard work part of that equation tended to create a lot of that "luck" and made you prepared when the time came to show your skills.

It sounds like maybe Abraham Lincoln studied with Sam Pilafian at some point in time...