Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: The Big Gig

These days most drummers know who Zoro the Drummer is. If not, the preliminaries of his book, The Big Gig, will give you an idea of the circles he moves in. Inside the front of the book there are fully seven pages of supportive quotes from people as diverse as Quincy Jones and Sinbad.

As it is a book written by a drummer one would assume for other drummers, you might expect it to be rather drumistic. It is not. It’s a how-to manual for ‘making it’ as a freelance musician. And it's not really that either. It's a prescription, a philosophy and a summary of the habits and attitudes that allowed Zoro to live his dream. No secret: He's a very talented and accomplished guy. But it doesn’t take a lot of talent to assume command of your life and craft it into something rewarding, and perhaps even enviable. In The Big Gig, Zoro tells all.

There's not much here that's actually new. The message is mostly about goal setting and self marketing, with a review of time management principles and an overview of this complex industry. What is different is the passion that Zoro brings to this simple message. I particularly like his personal mission statement. While it may seem overly detailed at first glance, it may just illustrate why so many mission statements fail to deliver: long on rhetoric but short on specifics and deliverables. Zoro's mission statement tells us exactly what he stands for -- what he values. He includes an exercise to help you write your own mission statement and poses a number of poignant questions including, 'What are your key values' and 'What do you want your life to stand for'. What a great place to start!

The text is sprinkled with lots of well-chosen motivational quotes. (There are also a lot of references to God and religion, which may not be to everyone's taste, but I applaud Zoro's choice to 'sell' his readers on the value of spirituality.) Once the basics are out of the way, Zoro then gives a good accounting of how to survive and even thrive in this very tough business. Again, he gives details and realistic goals and lots of strategies for coping.

In all, it's an excellent collection of practical wisdom and lots of workable advice. (I especially like his ‘point system’ for assessing your progress.) This is one book that really should be on every musician's reading list, not just drummers.

The Big Gig: Big-Picture Thinking for SuccessAlfred Music Publishing
ISBN-10: 0739082434 | ISBN-13: 978-0739082430
Also available as an ebook.

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