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Green Light in the City

A Session Musician in Notts

26 October 21 illustrations: Kasia Kozakiewicz

They might not be tied to one specific band, but that doesn't stop our Session Musician in Notts loving their job...

It was almost decided from when I was a small child that I’d become a musician. I’ve been playing since I was five years old and I haven’t stopped since. That was always what I was going to do, even if I didn’t know it myself. 

I was practicing violin all through school but it just wasn’t seen as a career option. You can tell people that’s what you want to do, but they’ll give you no advice on how to make it happen. At the time the only way to make it work was to meet people and do things off your own back. That was quite a challenge, but once you’re in there you’re set - if anything, I have too much on now. I want to do everything but it’s sadly not possible. 

There are large periods where I probably won’t do much during work days. I’m usually just told to go here and do this when I’m needed. We’ll have a little bit of a run through to warm up and then we’ll play, that’s the typical structure. The role involves lots of travelling, as well as plenty of preparation - having a look at the music beforehand and that sort of thing. There are tons of emails back and forth too. 

After a long day I enjoy going online and playing Rocket League or Call of Duty. Because of my line of work a lot of my friends live in different parts of the country and all over the world, so that’s the best way to stay in touch. Over lockdown gaming became really important and we bonded even more as a result. We had nothing else to do so we practically played every night. 

The people you meet are one of the best things about the job. There are people from all over the place, with all different backgrounds, and you get to know them and hear about them

Sometimes things don’t go as expected, which can be challenging. People have a plan in place and stuff comes up that affects that plan, like gear not working. I’d like to emphasise that I’ve got better at this now, but in the past I’ve forgotten to bring equipment with me, like a music stand. I’m pretty sure that happened a couple of times! Other difficulties are that people might ask for a piece of music they haven’t asked for beforehand, and sometimes you have artistic differences with those you’re working with - but thankfully that doesn’t happen very often. 

Despite the challenges, I’m so grateful that I get to do what I’m passionate about every day. I just love playing music. The people you meet are one of the best things about the job too. There are people from all over the place, with all different backgrounds, and you get to know them and hear about them. There are always loads of interesting stories. Often you hear from musicians that have been where you’ve been or played where you’ve played, and they’ve had a completely different angle on things. You can share your experiences and then think, ‘Oh, when I go back there I know now to do this thing or check out that thing.’ There’s a whole network in the industry and you feel like part of a family, regardless of where you go to play. I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else now I’m in that family. 

My proudest moment might sound silly, but it’s just being told by my parents that they really liked my show. We did a gig at the Rescue Rooms, Captain Dangerous back in 2013, and it was one of those rare times where my parents came to a show. There was this sixteen-piece orchestra I’d arranged, and my mum, my dad and his friends were quite moved by it. It’s always such a nice feeling to be told that you’re doing alright, it gives you a personal buzz. 

As I’ve progressed through my career I’ve got to travel more and meet people further afield. When you’re playing in an orchestra you get to see yourself physically moving forwards too, progressing one row at a time towards the front, and you’re given more responsibility. Going forward I’d like to do more stuff in Europe, keep choosing the jobs that I really care about and continue doing what I love as much as I can.

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