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> Being A Professional
Cosmin Lupu
post Jan 15 2013, 11:33 AM
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Until now, I have faced a lot of situations, pleasant and unpleasant ones, dealing with being a professional ... or not smile.gif A story which always inspired me, was one having Greg Howe as the main character.

It was told by a friend of mine that used to know Greg from the NAMM fair and they stayed friends as well. One time, this friend of mine asked Greg what his idea of being a professional in the field of music really is. Greg came up with a story which in my opinion says a lot about what sort of a tremendous musician Greg is. I don't know if the story is completely true and how many 'spices' it has, but here we go:

During on of Michael Jackson's huge tours, Jeniffer Baten fell sick in Asia, due to the stress and constant effort and she wasn't able to sustain the rest of the 20 something gigs left in the tour. She gave Greg a phone call and asked if he could fill in. He said yes. The first gig? It was in 2 days from that phone call. It is said that Greg learned 24 songs in the airplane smile.gif and went onstage with Michael without rehearsing first.

Fact? Myth? Anyway, this would be a great proof of what a tremendous pro Greg Howe is. Fast reaction, quality and showmanship. Quite a big pack I'd say.

Let's share stories - do you guys have any inspiring stories about being a professional as a musician? They can be personal experiences dealing with discipline, which have proven useful in your musical journey, be it on stage or not smile.gif


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The Professor
post Jan 15 2013, 01:59 PM
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Great story! I have heard that before, not sure how much is myth and how much is truth, but it's inspiring none the less.

For me, I have learned that always saying yes to gigs, at least when first starting out, is a great way to learn to deal with pressure, learn tunes quickly and develop your performance skills so that we're ready to handle a call like Greg got.

No matter what the call is, local bar, concert hall, full tour, TV/Radio show, recording etc. I've always said yes, then worked my ass off after that to get ready for the gig. Same with styles. I'm mostly a jazz/fusion guitarist, but I would say yes to country, rock, blues, funk gigs etc. to get the experience needed in order to be prepared for bigger gigs down the road.

So for me, the best thing I ever did was say yes and then figure things out between then and the gig! smile.gif


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klasaine
post Jan 15 2013, 05:55 PM
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I would say that it's probably essentially true. I've heard it many times - it's never been disputed. It's also not a unique situation. The Michael Jackson, Jennifer Batton/Greg Howe story is obviously more high profile than most situations like that.

I was on a tour in 99/00 where the keys player got fired in the middle of it (common occurrence). A replacement showed up the next day. He also ended up being my room mate for the rest of the tour.
He had maybe 36 hours to learn the record plus a few other tunes. There was our normal soundcheck at 4:00 pm then the gig. While this gig was certainly not as intensive as an MJ show, the guy had to cover keys parts as well as some horn parts, a lot of patch changes and some background vocals. Needless to say he nailed it all. I'm sure he knew the mistakes he made but they weren't apparent to any of us and we'd been doing the gig for three months at that point.

Greg Howe 1) is an excellent all around musician - he also plays drums and keys. 2) He probably knew or at least had heard several of the tunes (Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad era MJ - each album had 5 hits on it and like it or not you couldn't escape them). 3) Everybody likes Michael - I'm sure he was totally into it. 4) The money and exposure (extreme in this case) is w/o a doubt a motivating factor. Don't lie to yourself about that - it is.
His level of commitment to his craft is something that most definitely inspires me to work hard at this!

Though I am no where near the caliber of a player like Greg Howe and will probably never have a gig as high profile as a Michael Jackson (RIP) tour, I learn sets of artists music in one day all the time. Sometimes the only 'rehearsal' I get is listening to a CD on the way to the gig and then a long (thank you!) sound check. This is totally normal as a freelancer where I live.

When I do actually have to learn say from 10 to 20 songs in a day I don't do much of it on a guitar.
I will confirm the keys and some of the unexpected chords/key changes (if there are any?) and any 'signature' riffs with my axe in hand but mostly, after I make sure of the starting key ... I write it down. Chord chart (with a voicing diagram if it's important), maybe a style reference note (for example: Prince rhythm style) and any necessary line I'll learn on the guitar and then notate it in some way that lets me remember it. Also, just the act of writing it down helps me learn it - listen to it, regurgitate it to paper, play it once - boom, I know it.
I find that purposely not focusing on my guitar helps me learn the music. The music is what you truly need to be familiar with if you're only gonna get one or no rehearsal.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jan 16 2013, 03:56 AM


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Cosmin Lupu
post Jan 16 2013, 10:01 AM
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Hehe! Great input mate - I think it's important for the guys that have less experience in this field to learn from people that can have such a gig under their thumb in a flash. I was curious to ask - do you also play the piano?


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Jan 16 2013, 03:46 PM
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That's a really interesting story Cosmin! Very inspiring. Once, I was adviced that I had to replace a guitar player in a cover band in 30 minutes. They were going to play 4 or 5 songs in an end of year event... I remember these songs and maybe we played one more... "Day Tripper", "Sweet Child Of Mine", "Seven Nation Army" & "What's up". I put my black trousers and went to the show! biggrin.gif


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klasaine
post Jan 16 2013, 04:44 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Jan 16 2013, 09:01 AM) *
Hehe! Great input mate - I think it's important for the guys that have less experience in this field to learn from people that can have such a gig under their thumb in a flash. I was curious to ask - do you also play the piano?


I play at the piano. I know where all the notes are, I can find melodies, finger some chords but I def do not 'play' that instrument.

Just knowing the keyboard a little bit (where the notes are) can save your rear end on a 'pick-up' gig. If you don't know a song (and you're standing next to the piano player) watching their hands can seriously clue you into the chord structure.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Jan 21 2013, 10:04 AM
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I realized I can figure out chords on the piano, just by knowing where the notes are - but the same as you man, I can play at the piano, not play it laugh.gif

I wish I would've had piano lessons when I was a little tyke, but anyway, the piano is by far a lot more convenient when having to figure out some harmonies, in comparison with the guitar. In my opinion,the guitar will always start an urge to bend a note here or squeal a not there cool.gif I do believe you went through that, right? biggrin.gif


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klasaine
post Jan 21 2013, 06:28 PM
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I too took piano lessons (and trumpet and flute and violin) as a little guy. didn't dig any of it.
I play the guitar because I LOVE the guitar and as useful as I realize the piano is, I get no joy out of playing it.
Cest la vie.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jan 21 2013, 07:18 PM


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Cosmin Lupu
post Jan 21 2013, 11:30 PM
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Well, dunno how it would've went if I would've been forced to play it as a kid, but I like the piano now smile.gif


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klasaine
post Jan 22 2013, 05:08 AM
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I wasn't forced. We had a piano at the house as well as other insts - guitar included. That's the one that 'stuck'.
I love piano in general ... I just don't dig playing it myself.


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Cosmin Lupu
post Jan 22 2013, 09:48 AM
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So you were exposed to the music since early childhood - that makes a big difference as well smile.gif Guthrie Govan said he doesn't even remember when he first picked up the guitar, so I guess it's all for the best biggrin.gif


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klasaine
post Jan 22 2013, 04:33 PM
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Yeah, my father was/is a musician. Trumpet, double bass and a little piano. He also arranged/orchestrated parts. He's retired now. I didn't really start to play that early though. I strummed 5 chords or so from age 8 to probably age 13. I was into playing baseball. Once I saw that I got more attention from girls because I could play an Aerosmith song rather than field a ground ball I made the switch biggrin.gif


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Cosmin Lupu
post Jan 23 2013, 11:27 AM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ Jan 22 2013, 03:33 PM) *
Yeah, my father was/is a musician. Trumpet, double bass and a little piano. He also arranged/orchestrated parts. He's retired now. I didn't really start to play that early though. I strummed 5 chords or so from age 8 to probably age 13. I was into playing baseball. Once I saw that I got more attention from girls because I could play an Aerosmith song rather than field a ground ball I made the switch biggrin.gif


Well, then how did you end up from Aerosmith to jazz? biggrin.gif


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klasaine
post Jan 23 2013, 06:17 PM
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QUOTE (Cosmin Lupu @ Jan 23 2013, 10:27 AM) *
Well, then how did you end up from Aerosmith to jazz? biggrin.gif


Because of my dad I was into jazz/improvised music from the beginning but all the kids at school and in the neighborhood were (naturally) into rock. It was the 70s. I liked R&R too and I to this day, even though I can 'intellectualize' the difference, I pretty much just hear it all as - Music. I still like Aerosmith ... and Miles Davis. I first heard them both at the same time. My first serious guitar teacher was the best. He taught me some piedmont finger style (Elizabeth Cotton - Freight Train, etc.) along with turning me on to Jeff Beck and George Benson. I can't thank that guy enough! when I was in the high school jazz band me and the drummer and one of the trumpet players would cut class, smoke some weed and go listen to 4 records over and over again - Count Basie, 'Easin It', Buddy Rich, 'The New One', Deep Purple, 'Made In Japan' and Frank Zappa, 'Roxy and Elsewhere'. All great and I still listen to all of them.
*Caveat - I'm not advocating smoking weed or cutting class.

I also found (at that time - 1970s) that girls liked guitar players in general regardless of the style biggrin.gif . And in all seriousness eventually the music took over my motivation.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Jan 23 2013, 06:35 PM


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Cosmin Lupu
post Jan 24 2013, 10:09 AM
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Great story man biggrin.gif I started listening to rock music, due to Green Day's 'Basket Case' video - which I've seen in 1995 and from that point on, my world changed completely - I WANTED A GUITAR AND A WHITE CURLY CABLE, just like the one Billy Joe Armstrong used in the video biggrin.gif

It took 3 more years of listening to music and getting into GnR and especially Slash, to really pick up the guitar in 1998 and start learning smile.gif


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