Bob Craypoe (also known as R. L. Crepeau) is a musician, writer, webmaster, 3D artist, and creator of the Punksters comic strip series.
Occasionally, it’s good to make a self-assessment regarding your value as a musician, because realizing your value allows you to put things into a more realistic perspective. You can evaluate your strengths as well as your weaknesses. In a band situation, this allows you to realize what you are bringing to the table. When selling yourself, whether it’s to try to score gigs or to get an opportunity to audition for a band, you really need to know what you have to offer, just so that you may convey that to others.
What Are Your Strengths?
Your strengths are your main selling points. If you know a lot of songs that cover a large variety of genres and artists, that’s a good selling point. Do you play numerous instruments? That’s a good selling point as well. When selling yourself to the owner of an establishment that you want to play at, or to someone from a band you would like to join, there is not much of a place for humility. It’s sort of like a job interview. At a job interview, you are not going to talk too much about your weaknesses or bad qualities. That is, unless you don’t really want the job.
I occasionally take stock of my selling points. I do certain techniques well and play numerous instruments. I also sing. It’s good to be aware of what you really have to offer. That allows you to have a certain amount of confidence and having confidence when you play live often leads to a better live performance. It’s also good to expand on those better qualities.
In reality, if you have no real strengths to speak of, you won’t really stand out much from the average musician out there. So you need to make a point of discovering your strengths and building them up even more. Then you need to really display those strengths in your live performances as well as in your recordings.
What Are Your Weaknesses?
Assessing your weaknesses as a musician is probably not the most pleasant aspect of self-analysis. Some people are not comfortable with doing it, but it is every bit as important as acknowledging your good points. Maybe there are just a few minor things that are holding you back. One thing that was holding me back was my singing, so I always had to rely upon others to do the singing. I was just the guitar player.
When I came to the realization that I was totally dependent upon others for the singing, I knew that my options were being limited. I finally decided to start singing, but I had a few issues regarding my singing ability that I needed to resolve. The first problem I needed to deal with was trying to sing in key. I had a bit of a problem regarding that. I projected well and had a strong voice, but I sang out of key often. I needed to develop my ear for singing.
So what I did was practice singing scales. That helped me significantly. I would bring a harmonica with me in my car and would blow on the C note to get started. Then I would practice singing the C scale without accompaniment while I was driving. I also would sing along with many of the cover songs that I wanted to perform live in order to really learn the melody lines well. You have to have the melody of the song committed to memory in order to sing it well.
Another weakness I had at first was just not knowing the lyrics to a lot of songs. There were plenty of songs that I had performed in a band situation but I just played guitar. I didn’t sing them. So I had to learn the lyrics to songs. It’s great to be able to sing the songs in key but not so great if you screw the words up all of the time. You simply have to commit the words to memory and there is just no getting around that.
What to Do After the Assessment
So, after you determine what your weaknesses and strengths are, you need to make the necessary adjustments. For example, if you are a solo performer who sings and plays guitar and your strength is your singing, you need to highlight that by choosing songs that will place an emphasis on your great singing. Or, if your strength is your guitar playing, then you need to do songs that will highlight your great guitar playing.
In order to highlight your strengths, you may need to come up with original arrangements for the cover songs you perform. My main strength is my guitar playing. And since I perform mostly as a solo act, I usually have to come up with unique arrangement for the cover songs I do. I come up with arrangements that will highlight my guitar playing.
Since I know what my vocal range is, I know what keys best suit my voice. My weakness as a singer really revolves around that fact that I have a low singing voice and many of the songs I like are sung by people with a higher vocal range. This sometimes requires that I sing a song in a different key than it was originally performed in by the original artist. And since my guitar playing is my real strength, I find complex arrangements for the songs in a different key.
Since I sing the songs in more appropriate keys that are more accommodating for my vocal range, it makes my voice sound better. And since I usually develop complex arrangements for the guitar in order to facilitate that, my overall performance of the song is greatly improved. That is why it is so important to know what your limitations are. Because once you discover as to what they are, you can find ways of working around them using your strengths.
Through Hard Work You Increase Your Worth and Potential
After you work hard to develop yourself as a musician, you will probably notice a great amount of improvement. That usually comes with all of that hard work. Your value as a musician has probably increased significantly. That’s great, but what are you going to do with that?
You see, now that your worth as a musician has increased, you probably should not settle on working with second rate musicians. They will only hold you back and limit your possibilities. You need to be in a situation where you are able to exhibit the amazing things you are capable of doing. There was a point where I had discovered that I was being limited by the people I was working with. I had to make some adjustments. My one option was to go solo. I didn’t initially want to be a solo act but was kind of nudged into it as a result of working with people who were holding me back.
There were a number of ways I was being held back by others. For starters, I wanted to do more challenging songs. I wanted to do a lot of different songs by a lot of different artists. It was hard getting everyone else in the band to agree. So I was in a situation where I was unable to use all of my strengths as a musician. I like to do things that are challenging. That’s how I manage to improve as a musician. I always try to push myself to do better and, as a result, I have improved so much over the years.
Going solo, for me, provided the opportunity to grow as a musician. If I had not done that, I probably would not be nearly as good as I am now. Now I’m not saying that the solution to your problems would be to go solo. I’m just saying that you should not stay in a situation where you are being limited to mediocrity. If you know your true worth as a musician, you would probably be less inclined to allow that to happen.
The Bottom Line
Realizing your worth as a musician serves many purposes. It allows you to see your strengths and weaknesses, which is important as far as developing yourself as a musician or performer. It also prevents you from settling on mediocrity. It may even prevent you from allowing yourself to be taken advantage of by people who don’t appreciate your abilities. It can even prevent you from selling yourself short. In any case, it’s a good thing to know.
© 2017 Bob Craypoe