Being A Professional

It’s not a new thought to say that the music business is small, and that your reputation is one of the most important things to manage.

That hit home for me again this past week, when my wife (a pianist) got an unexpected compliment on a French horn podcast from an experience seven years ago!

The Mention

The podcast in question was one I’ve mentioned before – the Pathways French Horn Podcast.

This episode’s guest was Haley Hoops – the 2nd horn in the Dallas Symphony (where David Cooper used to be principal) and winner of the 2013 International Horn Competition of America.

Here’s the clip where Haley talks (briefly) about my wife:

Basically, my wife was assigned a concerto (Schoeck Concerto) to prepare for the final round of the competition, but she was also told “no one performs this piece”. Even as a horn player (and someone who entered the competition years earlier), I had never heard of or listened to this piece. Since my wife was also assigned “overflow duties” for other, more popular pieces, she worked on preparing those instead.

Of course, she was needed to accompany Haley on the Schoeck.

Apparently the first rehearsal was not great, but she put in many hours of practice overnight and the next morning before the final round (which was in the afternoon). And Haley won!

What It Means to Be A Professional

There are lots of lessons to take from this story. Lessons about assuming, about being prepared, about being kind, about hard work, about working well with others, etc.

But to me, one of the most interesting lessons (at least to me), is that people remember (and can tell) if you care enough to put in the work.

This reminds me of a recent blog post by Seth Godin, about the difference between amateurs, professionals, and hacks. It opens with:

The differences have little to do with skill, and a lot to do with resolve and intent.

Like all of Seth’s posts, you should read the whole thing (it takes less than a minute).

When in doubt, be a professional.