Having a son in the music business, and watching his career grow from the sidelines, has been an enlightening experience. Unlike the court reporting profession, where court reporters are a rarity, musicians abound. Despite this disparity, musicians and court reporters share a common challenge: both have a high mountain to climb to achieve success. I thought I’d share my son’s experience. Perhaps it will inspire you in your court reporting journey.
Jay got his lucky break working at the famed Medieval Manor dinner theater in Boston as one of two minstrels. He spent countless hours learning the script and practicing the accompanying music. With the Medieval Manor gig as his mainstay on weekends, Jay continued writing songs and honing his guitar skills during the week. He made dozens of calls a month to get gigs around town. Night after night he would lug his equipment from one dive bar to the next for meager pay and hopefully a meal. He would sit in a dark corner and play his heart out until closing time. Sometimes people would listen; many times they would not.
Over the years, the dive bar gigs took their toll. He grew impatient and discouraged. Despite his exasperation, Jay pressed on, all the while increasing his repertoire and improving his skill. Slowly he started to find his own voice in the crowded field of musicians. His fan base started to grow as did his confidence. He made some good connections which led to better paying gigs in nicer venues, more recognition, and some critical acclaim.
Incredibly, amazing opportunities started coming his way. He was asked to co-host the first ever Levitate Music Festival featuring the Original Wailers and has since opened for Ziggy Marley, Boz Scaggs, the Mavericks, Daughtry, Los Lonely Boys, Lisa Loeb, and others at beautiful venues. These are the gigs he always dreamed of and the gigs he lives for.
Jay’s modest success didn’t happen overnight. It was ten years in the making. I remember the night he opened for Ziggy Marley, psyched beyond words, only to play the next night in a dive bar for less than a handful of people. The difference couldn’t have been more glaring. What he realized, however, was that his Ziggy Marley gig, and all the other notable ones, would not have been possible without the grind of playing in those dive bars night after night after endless night. It is where he honed his act. In hindsight, it was valuable practice time, an opportunity to improvise, make his errors, learn from them, improve, and try out new material. Jay still grinds it out every night, as the thrilling opening gigs don’t come along every day. He is never satisfied, always pushing through the drudgery and preparing for the next unknown opportunity.
So how does Jay’s experience mirror yours, the court reporting student’s? Practicing days on end is your dive bar experience. Embrace it all, the ups and the downs! This is the foundation on which your future success will depend. Continue to work through the inevitable disappointments and set your goals. Practice, make your mistakes, evaluate them, adjust, and improve. The dividends will come if you continue to hone your act. You can’t hit the “big time” as a Registered Professional Reporter without paying your dues.