When Your Skills Become Unnecessary

by Eddie Lewis

Behind the Wheel Trumpet Session

In this behind the wheel video, I draw a comparison between my father and I. When he was my age, the skill he possessed that made him so valuable as an employee became unnecessary. The same thing is happening to me, in music, but in a slightly different way than what happened to him.

If you watch the video, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you.

Oh, and, I did the video early Wednesday morning, a week ago (as of the publishing of the blog post). I had intended to get it up and posted here then, but the video took many hours to upload and I missed my window of opportunity. So, here’s to trying to keep the Behind the Wheel videos shorter! 🙂

One Range Trumpet Chops Strategy Guide

7 Responses

  1. Mary Elms

    Hello Eddie. I watched this with a growing recognition. This happened to my husband too. He’s a computer programmer. He began his working life in a software house back in the days when you were assigned a job one day, given a language manual to read, and turned up at the customer’s site the next day ready to discuss their needs and start programming. He was really good at it and loved his job. Nobody believes that you can do that any more. You have to be a specialist. He got so bored and so unhappy and so frustrated that I told him to take early retirement next time it was offered and we would cope. I really wish I’d done that earlier. I was right, we could cope, and he is so much happier now he’s retired. He still does little projects for himself that use his skill. He has been able to pursue his other interests. And his skill has been an invaluable asset to church worship during lockdown.

    Re the pursuit of image versus excellence …. Sadly this is not just music. It is something that our society has really bought into across the board. It grieves me when I even see it in the church.

    God bless and keep you in the way as you seek the right path forward for you. Mary.

    • Eddie Lewis

      Hello Mary,

      Yes, I’m sure this is a thing in many fields.

      Thank you for sharing your husbands story. And thank you for reading!

      Yeah, for me, this is a time when I need to be vigilant about hearing from God about the direction He wants to take me with the career stuff. I have been spending this “lock down” time doing a LOT of publishing work. The problem with that stuff is that it doesn’t pay very well just yet. And it’s seasonal. But I know that this publishing stuff is what God wants me to do right now. We will see where it goes from here. I don’t get the feeling that this is going to be a permanent “job” for me. Just something to best utilize my time right now.

      In thinking about this whole “which way forward” thing, considering what happens if I “get it wrong”, I was reminded of a verse from Proberbs. It says, “in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight”. He is the creator of heaven and earth! The author of my salvation! He has power far far beyond what we could ever imagine. So what that verse means to me right now is, even if I do “get it wrong”, if I “acknowledge Him” in all I do, He will make it write.

      So that is the confidence I stand on today. It’s a scary place to be, to have your career pulled out from under you that way. But a LOT LESS scary when you know that God will do that sort of thing on our behalf.

  2. Anonymous

    Yeah, scary is the right word … but what I realised was that the damage being caused by staying on the old road was far greater than the risk of changing course.

    This whole lockdown thing has been very difficult in so many ways and has left a whole lot of people feeling completely stranded (I’m on unpaid leave right now) … but I think there are also a number of gifts it has given us and one of those is evaluation time. And yes, I believe as you do that if we step out in faith, love the Lord and seek to live in his way, then all things – even our mistakes – will be turned for good. Romans 8:28 Unfortunately that isn’t a promise of an easy life (you only have to look at Paul’s own life to realise that) but it does mean that all will be well.

    • Eddie Lewis

      Sorry to hear you’re on unpaid leave.

      Yes, that was one of my first thoughts when the lockdown stuff began, was that a lot of people who were previously too busy to sit and think about their lives were now being forced to do just that.

      Personally, for me, my lockdown experience is a very strange one because I was already living this lifestyle before it started. So you would think that maybe it wouldn’t affect me as much emotionally as it does most other people who aren’t used to staying home all day. Part of it is the fact that this is the longest I’ve gone without performing in 46 years. I’m not even one of those who gets a kick out of being in front of people, but I think going this long NOT performing is having a mental impact of some sort. I don’t fully understand it, really.

      Anyway, I pray everything works out for you.

      • Mary Elms

        “The music and the people are connected” … you say that a lot. Music doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s cultural and it’s communal. It’s not as satisfying playing on your own as it is with other people and the stuff we do with other people helps to shapes our practice even if we have a proper practice schedule. I don’t play Jazz but it has always seemed to me that Jazz is particularly communal … whether you’re jamming together or performing together it’s about how you interact with each other musically. I would be very surprised if you weren’t experiencing that as a bereavement right now even though you’ve come to realise that the particular route you were taking is no longer working for you.

        PS – I heard yesterday that I start back at work on 1st September.

        • Eddie Lewis

          Alleluia! That’s the best news of the day! Congratulations starting back at work!

          Yeah, I should do a video about that. When I say that you cannot separate the music from the people, I am mostly talking about the academic music world, which is very much guilty of doing this. But then I extrapolate that concept from only that context and apply it in a lot of different ways.

          So, when we practice scales, it should never be just scales. Those scales have a purpose and that purpose is always somehow connected to the people.

          And yes, culture is a big part of that, but I am also talking about individuals. So, for example, when I teach improv or composition, I focus primarily on the process of improvising or the process of composing. I do not focus on the rules. The rules are purely academic…and arbitrary…and necessary. When we turn it into a process, instead, then the creativity is very much a form of communication from the composer/improviser to the other musicians and to the audience. So, in that way, once again, the music is connected to the people, but this time, not in a cultural sense, but in a very real relationship sense.

          And, ha ha…. the reason I see this so clearly is because I have always been outside of that. I am an extreme introvert and I see patterns. So when I talk about these things, it’s because I see them from the outside looking in. And yes, I realize that makes me a hypocrite. Ha ha!!

          So yeah, I think that’s what you mean by “communal”.

          As for the jazz stuff, you’re right about the interplay between musicians (and the audiences too). That’s why I don’t post videos of me playing jazz very often. I don’t think you can really call it jazz if you are playing with tracks. It’s not living….and jazz is a living art form in that sense.

          As for the change in direction, I really wouldn’t mind at this point becoming a full time jazz musician, which I’ve never done before. It’s not the jazz thing that I’m not wanting to go back to. It’s the commercial stuff. Most of my gigs over the course of my career have been commercial in nature. Now, I got those gigs because I was a good jazz player. But they were not jazz gigs. I hope that makes sense.

          So, yeah, to become a full time jazz player would be nice. But that pays about as well as playing at churches. 🙂

          None of the serious music pays if you’re not an international star. And even those, I have some past students who are famous famous…..and I keep thinking, their careers can’t be going all that well if they are still having to promote themselves on facebook. Right? Ha ha! So no, I don’t see that as a way forward either.

          Anyway, I’m rambling. Not really responding to you specifically. You just prompted some thoughts.

          Congrats again on getting back to work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.