Keeping Up with the Jazz Academia Social Media Discussion 

I have some things to add to the good discussion on jazz education/industry and mental health started by Geoffrey Keezer’s well-written and insightful post since we’re all finally talking about this-

it is well-known that musicians do frequently struggle with various mental health and substance abuse issues, which at the very least are exacerbated by demanding schedules and workplaces that often under-compensate with real actual money and make up for it in other “perks” (usually booze). Maybe there are some that have the *privilege* of saying “oh sorry I can’t take that 11p-2a gig for $75 because I have an 8am class that I can’t miss”, but if that $75 is gonna feed that musician for the week? They don’t really have a choice. So they take the gig, drink enough to forget that they’re being grossly underpayed, then get 4 hrs of sleep and show up 15 mins late to their class to be shamed by their professor for not “putting in the work” when they were…literally doing the work the program is allegedly preparing them for.

The point I’m trying to make is not “it’s ok to be late and waste your professor/boss/bandleader’s time”- if you’re gonna be late or underprepared, be a pro and let them know.

The point I am trying to make is why as an industry are we trying to use “tough love” (frequently confused with -actual shaming- or even verbal abuse, which may need to be a separate rant) to excuse and perpetuate the unhealthy expectations and working conditions that have cost so many musicians their love for the art form, healthy habits, relationships, well being, and in some extreme and awful conditions, their lives?

When are we as an industry going to stand up and say “we had to do it like this and it sucked, but we are learning from it so let’s at least try and fix it” instead of “we had to do it like this but if you can’t/won’t do it like we did then you suck and don’t belong here”?

Also, maybe the hypothetical music student in my example wouldn’t have had to take the $75 gig, drink too much, and be late for their class if the industry -also- didn’t tell them they’d be a failure if they had to take a “day job”