After a few positive comments towards me, lately, I started thinking about what it was “to be a professional”? Here is the definitions that appear in Merriam-Webster: “Professional.” (Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/professional.)
Definition of professional:
1a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession
b : engaged in one of the learned professions
c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession
(2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace
2a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs
- a professional golfer
b : having a particular profession as a permanent career
- a professional soldier
c : engaged in by persons receiving a financial return
- professional football
3: following a line of conduct as though it were a profession
- a professional patriot
Now, I have heard that there are various ways to explain this but, in this instance, I am only using my current experience as it applies to what I do as a musician. To me, it takes a lot more than showing up to a gig, a rehearsal, a studio session, or even a meeting to talk about an upcoming project, with “professional gear” and a pair of drumsticks to call out to everyone what you do. I think you have to show up with a plan, a call to action, and at least some input that can explain from a different angle other than those presented, how to clarify your point. To most people in this field, it’s “let’s get together and jam before our gig”? Just because you may make some money at a gig does not, in itself, make “YOU” a professional. Although people are paying to see you or see what you can bring to the table, it’s a whole myriad of things that make up the “professional musician”. Let’s list some of those here:
- Do you present a “professional” attitude?
- Do you come prepared ? (this is not a time to “learn” your song)
- Do you have a good attitude?
- Are you open to suggestions or constructive criticism?
- Are your standards above what is expected?
- Do you carry on in a businesslike manner, regardless of the pay involved?
- Do you treat your livelihood as it should be, with high regard?
- Dress the part, play the part, put your game face on.
With all of this being said, I also get paid for my “professional services”. That doesn’t mean that it’s beneath me to serve, and give my time in some way, but, it does mean that I get to choose those times and how it is applied, as this is my livelihood. I often negotiate my rates with those that request my services. Because let’s face it, it’s quite flattering to be held in such regard. I understand that I can be of service, help someone, and still make a living. But, I get to choose. After all, I have to make a living at what I do, just like anyone else. I don’t flaunt it but, I do treat it like big business. Because it is big business to me. Lately, I was blessed to serve alongside a remarkable musician. He is, Grammy™ award-winning arranger and multi-platinum award-winning composer, producer and performer, Fletch Wiley. He said this, about me online: “Gina not only has chops and an impeccable sense of time, but she comes prepared. And with a great attitude. If I were you, I’d hire her!! Fletch Wiley”
However, because you are a professional, don’t let your ego guide your mouth. I always try to stay humble in my dealings as well as business minded. All of these things combined, make me a “Professional”. I don’t apologize for it. I will, however, treat you with respect, dignity, and a “professional” on equal par. To me, comments like this are the pinnacle of knowing who you are.
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