Opinion: Those mentoring young musicians should be candid about finances

Posted on: May 24, 2022

“The most taboo subject in the arts is how people pay the bills,” writes jazz critic/music historian Ted Gioia at Substack on Saturday (5/21). “Students embarking on careers in creative fields deserve better information and more honest feedback on this subject…. Those of us who teach and mentor young musicians (or other creative professionals) do them a disservice when we refuse to address this subject with candor and practical guidance. This is why I often recommend David Byrne’s unique book How Music Works, [which includes] detailed profit and loss statements for each of his major projects…. There is nothing shameful about developing work skills and earning a living. People look at composer Philip Glass with even more respect when they learn he worked as a taxi driver, plumber, and in other capacities for many years…. Jazz singer Sheila Jordan, a legend in the field and still active at age 93.… worked as a typist and legal secretary for decades, and only focused on music full time starting at age 58? I respect her all the more for those sacrifices…. Every artist … has some untapped potential beyond our creative life, and good reasons to develop it.”