[Thanks to Kyle for sharing his informational interview report on how to become a musician and related career information.]
There is a man who goes to my church who is a talented musician; I’ve gotten to know him over the past year, and we are currently collaborating on a music video for a song off one of his albums. I have often considered being a songwriter or composer as a possible career path, and in any case he is an independent artist, so I felt him a good choice to interview. I approached him a little more than a week ago and simply asked if he’d answer some questions for a school project, and he obliged me graciously.
In an e-mail I sent him I asked 12 questions, and here are the responses:
When did you know that you wanted to get into music? I first started playing music when I was nine years old until I was thirteen. It was primarily classical music. I went to a private Christian school. At about thirteen or fourteen, the school was burned down and I did not pick up the guitar again until I was probably 20 or 21 years old. There was a need for a guitar player at a Baptist church I was attending at the time. I thought, “I can play background on those hymns,” so I did. At the same time, one of my college buddies and I use to jam at his house after classes.
How did you get into the industry? The way I got in the industry was purely of love and passion for playing and singing. I also enjoyed listening to a lot of contemporary Christian music that I had been exposed to at age 16 along with secular “Top 40” stuff. I also just enjoyed creating music. Getting into the “industry of music” was not something I really thought about. I made a goal of completing a CD and then began to plan and move toward that end. Through the process of achieving that goal I learned a lot.
Given your experience in this field, what experience would you say is necessary to pursue this career? I would say to have a true love for what you do. It has to be something you have a passion and desire for. In addition, I would also say it takes a lot of patience, perseverance, and dedication. I had a lot of people telling me to give up, because the process of completing a CD took seven years. In my heart, I had to on many occasions, evaluate why I was doing what I was doing. In my case, I wanted to glorify the Lord when all was said and done. I came to the conclusion that fame and money was not my purpose. If it happened – all glory to God and if it did not – all glory to God. I was just thankful for the gift of song.
What is a typical day of writing like? A typical day of writing is never “typical.” I can be inspired during any of the following: practicing in my room, after reading the Bible, hearing a sermon, observing people in situations of happiness or tragedy, conversations with friends or strangers, my own life experiences, wanting to express something that I think others also can identify with, etc.
What is a typical day of performing like? Typical day of performing. I do not look at myself as a performer. I look at myself as someone who leads worship. Typical day includes: prayer by myself and with the team. Setup – this includes sound check and going over the music set. I also see if there are any last minute changes that need to be done. This depends on the church that I am leading at. Lastly, I try to enjoy the process with the people. Since I lead worship, I am not looking to perform. I am focused on being an instrument God can use so His people can worship Him. I understand that my purpose is to glorify God, so I am part of the congregation glorifying God.
How do you go about writing music and/or lyrics? Writing music and lyrics depends on a lot of things that I stated in question 4, but it generally starts with an idea that comes to me either in words or music or both.
What do you like least/most about your job? The thing I like most about worship leading is praising God with God’s people. I do not look at that time as a job. It is something that I enjoy doing and I do it even when I am not at church. I can sing praise for hours. The thing I like least is when for whatever reason people are not able to praise God, because I did not prepare adequately beforehand so things do not go smoothly. I believe preparation is an essential part in anything that we do for the Lord whether in or outside of church. I believe we should do our best.
What is the greatest challenge of songwriting/singing? The greatest challenge in songwriting is being able to capture an idea so that it not only speaks to the body and mind but to their spirit. Another challenge is expressing ideas in a new and different way on old themes involving some of the following: love, tragedy, pain, success, hope, family, etc.
What is the greatest challenge of the industry? The greatest challenge is staying true to the purpose that God has revealed to me without my ego getting in the way. There are many distractions that feed the ego (fame, money, friends, self, etc.). I have found that when any of these things were my focus, I was not content in the process. It was empty for me. I found this to be true even outside of music with personal and professional areas of my life.
If you had a chance to do it over again, what would you do differently? I would not do anything differently. The good and bad things have taught me a lot about life and my relationship to the Lord. Music has just been one area that has been apart of that process.
How do you balance your day job with your songwriting? I make or plan time for songwriting. I also just write ideas anywhere I am, so look out you just might be the subject of my next song! 🙂
Would you say that you are more emotionally involved with your day job or your music career? That is a tough question; I would have to say both but in different ways. I work with children and families in a school setting as a counselor and that requires a lot emotionally. Music is something I hold very dear so when I write a song it is something I nurture like you would a child.
I knew very little of the specifics regarding his beginnings as a songwriter and his methods, but his Christianity I am familiar with so I wasn’t surprised by his answers. What I liked best about this exchange is that no matter what I asked about his focus was on one of two things: God or music. He didn’t talk about commercial success, just his personal integrity (and I can assure you that it’s not in a boastful way). Overall it went to reinforce my image of art as something “worth it,” although in retrospect maybe I should have been more insistent on some of his answers keeping to the pragmatic side of things. In any case his answers were a great exhortation, so I still hold the career path in reverence.
In summary I would say that the interview wasn’t completely successful, and I’ll continue to talk to him about the historical details of his career path, but ultimately it did encourage my overall impulse to pursue art. The interview was helpful in that it made me look at the process which I am in the midst of in relation to the process my friend used, but I’ll need to continue to talk to him to get more details; but yes, it was helpful.
Thank You Text
Thanks a lot! I appreciate you taking the time to do this. I did get the attachment and it had everything I needed. Kyle