Just Show Up
There is a quote from Thelonious Monk which says, “don’t sound anyone for a gig, just be on the scene.” He is referring to musicians who continually ask other musicians to get a gig. His advice is to just show up at shows and jam sessions so people know who you are and see your face frequently. As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.”
I’ve experienced this first hand over my career as a musician. Just by being somewhere I have been able to get jobs left and right. I got my first booking opportunity at a well-known club in DC by just being there when the person in charge wanted to hire someone to book the venue. I got my first major university position by just dropping off rehearsal music to a bass player friend of mine. His wife was friends with the department chair and got me an interview.
These opportunities are called synchronistic moments because everything was in “sync” for the opportunity to present itself. I was prepared sufficiently with the skill and the person needed someone with my expertise, but the most important part of the situation was that I “showed up.” I was there when the person was looking. That’s always the determining factor. There are so many skilled people but the ones who get the jobs are the ones who are “on the scene.”
As I say to my students, “90% of life is just showing up.” I tell them this not just so they make it to class everyday but because they might miss something if they don’t. A perfect example of this is when a few students didn’t make it to class one day (for whatever reason) and we had a famous trumpet player, Roy Hargrove, come by class and answer their questions. I didn’t know he was going to be there that day, he just showed up. One student was not happy that they missed him but it just underscores the fact that life goes on even when you’re not there.
So the next time you are considering whether or not to make it to an event and you are in need of something, I would say, “show up.” You never know who will be there and what may happen. Your wishes may just be fulfilled. As the lottery says, “You have to be in it to win it.”
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