Show up, shut up, and play.

My parents were both musicians, and I was a working musician as well by the time I was in high school. They both taught me a lot about how to work in the arts, but one of my father’s sayings has stuck with me more than anything else. For any gig you book, he used, to say, there were only three things you needed to do:

  1. Show up.
  2. Shut up.
  3. Play.

The conductor wasn’t interested in your opinion or why you were late or what you would do in the second movement. He wanted you to be in your fucking chair on time, to not give him any static, and to come in on the goddamn downbeat when he cued you.

I had “show up, shut up, and play” drilled into my head from an early, early age, so I’m always surprised to see how frequently these things are an issue. So many folks – often smart, generally with it people – can’t get to work on time, have lots of reasons why they can’t do their job, and invariably have MANY opinions about how it’s always somebody else’s fault.

Who the fuck cares. Not your students, whose lesson you were late to. Not your boss, who has to re-arrange shit around your late ass. Not your co-workers, who have to cover your shit. And certainly not everybody else who managed to get THEIR shit together and do their jobs.

You better believe I have a hard time with (2) – shut up. I show right the hell up and I will play the bejesus out of whatever you give me, but I love to talk. One of my biggest challenges has been trying to turn my smack talking into getting it done – to not just bitch and complain about how I would like things to be done… and wouldn’t it be nice if… and that bitch doesn’t do her job… and instead do MY thing, own MY shit. And you know what? It works.

Show up. Shut up. Play.

If you can’t do those things, make it so you can or find something else to do with your time. It’s not YMCA t-ball, kids. Everybody doesn’t get to play and everybody sure as hell doesn’t win. I may not be the best dancer in the world (I’m not, duh) but I will work harder than anybody else to get my fucking job done the best way I know how.

Show up. Shut up. Play.

Speaking of which, I fucking love this:

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Cha cha cha.

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