Some of you know I spent a few years working on cruise ships. Working on ships is a much maligned gig nowadays. The pay isn’t very good. The music isn’t very good. The close quarters can make you crazy. And you visit the same ports over and over again.
Despite all that I still recommend it for young players. There’s two important skills you get to learn.
1) Knowing what it’s like to work a crappy job. A lot of musicians think they’ll go straight from college to playing recording sessions or symphonies. Nope. There’s often a lot inbetween. And most of it ain’t very glorious.
2) Working really hard at a crappy job anyways. What you do in less than optimal situations is a lot more important that what you do when everything is perfect. Did you find things to enjoy about it? Did you learn some things? Did you plan your way into a better situation?
I wrote a lot of music while I was out there. Most of it wasn’t very good, but a few things I still keep. I learned how to work with a “less sophisticated” audience. It’s humbling when no one cares about your cool music. But it does make you appreciate it when you have it.
This might sound strange to those who know me as a jazz guy, but I even sang some pop tunes with the show band. It gave me something new to work on, and made me appreciate what it takes to sing well.
Now of course, take a great job if you can get it. But there’s plenty to learn from those bad jobs too.