Have you ever had one of those days? Nothing seems to be going your way. From the moment you wake up until you hit the bandstand your circumstances all point in the direction you don’t want them to go. The circumstances themselves have different faces each time. One could be a physical battle with your body (sicknesses or other pains). Another could be a tough relationship with a loved one. You might be facing an uphill financial struggle. Whatever the circumstance we have to realize as humans that we face them regularly. However, how we choose to deal with those circumstances determine our level of success in just about area of life. We can either give up or Fight Through.
Let’s look at it from a jazz musician perspective. We run in to challenges all the time to become a better musician. Our instruments technically challenge us (some more than others…right trumpet players?). We encounter harmonic progressions as a soloist that take longer to overcome until they become revelation. If you perform for a living you have to fight through the music business to get work. Some people are easier to work with then others, but we can’t just take jobs that are enjoyable AND put food on the table. So, we have to make a conscious decision for each circumstance to let it get to us or to Fight Through.
Let me tell you a short story about a musician who had a rough day and how their decision to Fight Through was worth it in the end. This musician woke up the morning of a club date with a massive migraine. The type where you want to stay in bed and keep all light and sound out to make it through. But, this musician had some important business to take care of that day before the gig that night. They knew they would be out most of the day and needed to grab breakfast. Upon entering the kitchen they realize that they needed to go to the grocery store, but didn’t have time. Still fighting the migraine, the musician decides they need to get to their appointment and skip breakfast which further complicates the growing migraine.
On the way to the appointment the musician was stopped at the intersection right before their appointment location when a driver, who was texting their friend, slams into the back of the musician’s car. The accident was not major, but still caused the musician to miss their appointment (and had to pay the cancellation fee for missing the appointment). Not the way you want your day to go, right? Later that afternoon the musician is at another appointment when they receive a call from one of their band mates in the rhythm section. He has an emergency family matter and has to bow out of the gig. Now the musician in our story is fighting their migraine, hungry, has to deal with the insurance company for the accident earlier in the day and now has to call other musicians in town to see if they can sub on the gig tonight.
I know many people who would have thrown in the towel at this point and said, “Forget it. This is not worth it.” But, we can never grow to our full God-given potential if we let circumstances beat us down.
The musician, who is still weighted down with the day’s circumstances, fights through and determines to play their best on the gig. Why? For starters, someone paid for the entertainment that night. At the very least you need to do your job. The musician also realizes that someone else in the audience (or in their band for that matter), may have had a rough day too. One beautiful thing about music is the power it has to encourage someone else. On this particular night, that is exactly what happened for someone in the audience. They too had one of the hardest days of their life and went to the musician’s show to escape. It was the highlight of their night. They told the musician after the gig about their day and how their show encouraged them. It just so happened that this audience member was on a city council seat that picked entertainment throughout the year for different events. Guess whose band now gets those calls? Because the musician decided to fight through their circumstances they were able to secure more work. I don’t know about you, but that makes fighting through the circumstances worth it.
What about you? What circumstances are you facing right now? I want to encourage you today and tell you that you CAN fight through them. Circumstances (problems, issues, etc) always change. Fight Through Them. If you struggle with playing in the key of B then fight through it until you no longer struggle with it. You can not be great by giving up or deferring. Fight Through.
Jason Klobnak is a versatile trumpet player that has been performing as an active musician, author, clinician, composer and educator. His band, J's Ruckus, is Denver's blend of Post-Bop, Soul, Gospel, and Hip-Hop. They perform infectious and up-lifting originals for audiences hungry for a memorable live experience. J's Ruckus released their latest album, Suck Less, in March of 2020 and their first EP, Sermons, in July of 2019. Both were recorded live in front of an audience. Suck Less was recorded to a packed auditorium at Arapahoe Community College's Waring Theater in Littleton, CO. Sermons was recorded in front of a sold out crowd at the Soiled Dove Underground. The JKQ (the Jason Klobnak Quintet/Quartet) is Mr. Klobnak's Hammond B-3 centered groups. The JKQ released their third full-length album in March of 2018 called Friends & Family. It has been very well reviewed, on numerous Top 10 lists for Jazz radio stations across the country (including Denver's KUVO 89.3FM which named it May 2018's CD of the month), and in Jazzweek's Top 100. Each composition was written for specific family and close friends (that might as well be family). Their second album, New Chapter, was recorded in part thanks to the Pathways to Jazz Grant from the Boulder County Arts Alliance. In 2015 and 2016, New Chapter was in the Top 75 on the Jazzweek charts and on the Top 10 playlists for over a dozen radio stations worldwide. Their first album, Mountain, Move made the Best Recordings of 2013 list from AllAboutJazz.com by C. Michael Bailey. His very well reviewed Christmas single, Hark the Herald, in 2016 as part of a creative project with musicians James Roberson and Nathaniel Kearney Jr. Besides the JKQ, Mr. Klobnak is a B.A.C. (Best American Craftsman-custom trumpet), Denis Wick (mouthpiece and mutes) and Westone Audio endorsed artist (ES20 and Tru Customs). Mr. Klobnak has played and recorded for numerous groups ranging from jazz, soul/R&B, indie-rock/pop and gospel. In addition to performing, he has also written two improvisation-based books called Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony and is currently an adjunct professor and brass instructor at Arapahoe Community College. Mr. Klobnak holds a bachelor degree from Drake University (Des Moines, IA) and a Master’s degree from the University of Denver, Lamont School of Music (Denver, CO).
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