The 4 Pillars of Professionalism

November 21, 2011, 8:10 AM ·

“A musician’s reputation is shaped as much by consistent professionalism
(or the lack thereof) as it is by artistry.”
The Musician’s Way, p. 115

Although we musicians spend vast amounts of time practicing alone, professional music making is largely a collaborative art form: for the most part, we rehearse, perform, record, and tour collectively.

Not surprisingly, then, cultural norms have arisen among professional musicians.

Performers who abide by those norms thrive; ones who don't wind up unemployed. So it's vital that aspiring artists understand and live by professional standards of conduct.

I distill professionalism into four elements: Punctuality, Preparation, Courtesy, and Integrity.

Here are some ways in which collaborating musicians can reinforce those elements during and outside of rehearsals.

Punctuality

Preparation
Courtesy
Integrity
For more about professionalism as well as ways to rehearse artistically in groups, see Chapter 6 of The Musician’s Way, “Musical Collaboration" (p. 114-129). A version of this article first appeared on The Musician's Way Blog.

© 2011 Gerald Klickstein

Replies

November 21, 2011 at 05:58 PM · great!

November 21, 2011 at 06:14 PM · One refinement. Acknowledge the hierarchy of the rehearsal/performance. If someone is chosen to be the leader there is no time to argue fine points. If they reject your suggestions or ask that there be no suggestions then suck it up and respond to what is requested. You can choose next time to not accept the gig. Not every project is a democracy.

November 21, 2011 at 06:29 PM · Thanks for contributing, Corwin!

Excellent point: there are important distinctions between how we conduct ourselves in egalitarian versus leader-run ensembles.

I should have said in the intro that, in this article, I'd generally discuss professionalism in the context of egalitarian groups.

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