The Life of a Musician ~ Take 123

Only a dedicated musician would take $20,000 in instruments in his $500 car, 50 miles one way to make $20. ~ Anon

JaAGlogoThe holiday season is upon us and for most musicians this is a busy time. I am an amateur musician who plays with four groups right now, one that I run, and I have only three gigs from now through New Years. And that is by choice, having decided to take a break from another of many other musical performances I have done in the past.

But I got another of those interesting offers that really gives me pause. It was an offer to do another holiday show, this time as part of a 4 piece combo. Taking a least 16 hours, not counting traffic, the gig would run over 8 days with the pay check  of $100. I would be soloing on sax, clarinet, flute, and oboe for $6.25 an hour, in a high stress (because as musicians, you can’t make a mistake). Minus my cost for gas (30 miles one way), reeds, and food, my net return, best case, would be a negative $20!

SaxOneDon’t get me wrong, I have done more for less, including donating my time. And I have schlepped a record five different instruments to one long-running show. My returns from that show was 4 free tickets to the show. And this was from a theater that runs many shows a year. We won’t mention my soprano sax that got ruined when someone knocked it over during a break or the damage to Suzy’s alto sax by a sub who dropped it when he forgot to close the case before picking it up.

I recently met a very fine musician who after college was trying to make a go of the life as a professional musician in New York. He gave up and is back in Seattle living in his mother’s home. He does lessons for Music Works, thank goodness for those guys. He is struggling to make a living by giving lessons, writing original music, teaching at Music Works, and playing gigs around town. He recently did a sub gig with a professional quality band and got $20 for the night!

Having run a band, I often filled the band with stellar players who tried the life of a professional musician and then went back to college to get a degree for a job that would pay more regularly. It is nice to eat three times a day. Getting a decent soloing sub for my band is not hard because we are a non-profit with little to no pay for the musicians. But when I bring in a quality soloist, we try to pay them extremely well.

This year I decided to do my first New Year gig with this band. Everyone gets $75 for a three hour gig with one 2 hour practice. Yeah, we can afford Christmas this year …

Posted in Band Management, Big Band, Guides, Music, My World | 2 Comments

The Perfect Clarinet

If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be. ~ Yogi Berra

DSCF3613I have spent a lot of time helping family and friends find the perfect instrument within the constraints of their budgets. New musicians, young musicians, adult newbies and returning musicians all need a good or better instrument. On occasion I have even wowed the jaded professional who thought they’d never buy another instrument. I wowed them with a stellar instrument that they thought they could never afford and one which completed their stable of doubles (instruments besides your primary that you are called upon to play).

B18Today I’m writing you about a clarinet deal that might be the best you’ll ever see for your little musician, your friend or you returning to music. But first I want to talk about why making do with an inferior, cheap, poorly working instrument just doesn’t make sense. This is a medium-long article but it just could make the difference between success and failure and in the long run, save you a lot of money.

I don’t recommend renting an instrument after the first year of music. Often, for the price of a year of rental, you could own this instrument. The Buffet B18 below will play better, helping you move through the levels of learning faster and at the same time bring you much joy as you start to make some beautiful music. If you are using an old student model instrument, you might be fighting key work design problems, suspect intonation challenges, and damaged instrument travesties. I lament at the number of musicians who just gave up because their instrument let them down.

Quinn the Eskimo Vintage Horns has purchased a limited lot of Buffet B18 Bb soprano clarinets. The B18 clarinet is manufactured with a silver-plated finish and metal body rings, in keeping with the Buffet Crampon clarinet line design. The use of silver instead of nickel is an upgrade usually only found on high priced instruments. This clarinet is remarkably well-balanced and carries its power lightly, with a tone that is very close to that of the wood. As it is made of ABS resin, it is stable and unlike wood is not prone to cracking. It is the kind of instrument that could serve you for your whole life.

Quinn the Eskimo Vintage Horns is offering three lines of this instrument for your consideration.

Buffet B18 Bb Soprano Clarinet: $499 includes this new clarinet in either a backpack or standard clarinet case. Compare this to the Buffet B12 selling on sale at $700 and you start to see how much you save with this deal.


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Buffet B18 Bb Soprano Clarinet & Accessories: $599 ~ This includes an upgraded mouthpiece, Yamaha metronome, Yamaha tuner, and music stand.


Select a Selmer HS or a Giggilotti A or B mouthpiece.

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Buffet B18 rental/repair shop 10 pack: $4000 and includes ten new instruments.


Now is your chance to get a very fine instrument that could help you or your favorite musician move to the next step up the ladder of success.

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Phil Woods – Just the Way You Are


One of my many instructors, this is a touching tribute to Phil.

Originally posted on SDartSax:

Phil Woods passed away this week, so I thought it would be fitting to take a break from the Maceo transcriptions and share one of his most iconic solos.

While he was a jazz legend, I chose this pop recording since it is so famous. When was the last time you heard a saxophone solo in song on the top 10 chart for pop/rock? The 70s were a different time…

This solo deserves the praise that it gets. Phil didn’t dumb down his playing for a pop audience, or resort to gimmicks. He just played a simple, beautiful solo that has some great jazz lines in it, and subtle use of dissonance, tension…

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RIP Phil Woods

“I have no illusions about being a genius musician. I pride myself on being a soldier, a warrior for jazz. I trained a lot of young people, and I’ve learned my lessons well. I’d like to keep the flame burning.” ~ Phil Woods


A saxophone hero of mine died today. I last saw him in 2007 when he ran a master session in Seattle, a master session full of wonderful stories of his life and guidance for the musician. We talked to him for an hour after the gig. He played my sax. He will be missed and his music will live on forever.

So this is what I’ve been listening to this evening. (Click on the picture below.) He, it, jazz … is so hawt. Play on Phil.


Posted in Jazz, Saxophone | Tagged | 1 Comment

How Important are You?

I’ve seen these two posts on Facebook this week and it kinda struck home. This first one is a data spew that I found fascinating:


This next one is from the aspect of space, a place that always makes me feel very small.


It would be easy to think that you are insignificant, unable to make a difference in this world. But I encourage you to push past those feelings. Think instead of this story my father told the Presbyterian faithful in Sigourney, Iowa back in the early 60s.

Imagine you are a spec on huge tapestry. You are such a small thing that from a few feet away you can not even be recognized. But if you make your little part of the tapestry as beautiful and clean as you can, the whole tapestry is better. And if you are lucky, very lucky, your neighbors will see what you are doing and they will make their little parts that much better. Now, suddenly, you have made a bigger impact than had you just ignored the whole idea of improving your little spot in the sun.

Posted in Community, Health and wellness, Lifestyle, My World, Religon | 1 Comment

Henry Ford, Privilege and Gayness


Many of us do not comprehend what it means to be part of a minority group. This post was an eye opener for me and bonus, there is a great book recommendation here too.

Originally posted on :


In 1913, Henry Ford started paying his workers $5 per day, a huge amount for the time and a more than 100% raise from what they were previously earning. It’s seen as a milestone in modern capitalism, the moment when employers realized that workers were also consumers, that raising their wages created a generation that would buy as well as work.

Last week in London I randomly read The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time, which has a chapter on Ford’s decision and some of the unsightly details of how he rolled it out.

It came with some strings attached. The headline pay was divided into two parts: wages (about $2.40 per day for an unskilled worker) and “profits” (about $2.60 per day). All workers received wages for their work at Highland Park, but they shared in the profits only if they were deemed worthy. Six months’ service was…

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Sax Art du Jour ~ Mark Kazav

“Mark Kazav is an artist of distinct style and conceptual integrity. He at once challenges the viewer with vibrant color and bold images. Mark has developed his own personal style which is indeed colorful, visually stimulating and a pleasure to own. Mark paints use a “wet-in-wet” technique, attempting to capture the essence of subject, rather than detailed expression. These paintings are reflective of both his philosophy of life and his personality, employing the use of colors as vibrant as any work of art such masters as Matisse or Van Gogh.” ~ Mark Kazav website

This picture really caught my attention, there is so much happening here, layer upon layer.


I like the idea of painting with a pallet knife and the colors just pop here.

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