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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000230.txt from 2005/12

From: Adam Michlin <>
Subj: [kl] Professionalism was:Pieces that Drive you Nuts
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2005 09:44:48 -0500

Dear Gordon,

I have to agree that the average American on the street would
probably agree with your definition. I do, however, feel it is
unfortunate that this definition has become commonplace. I prefer to
contrast the term "professional" with the term "amateur". "Amateur"
seems to have become a dirty word in our culture, but the definition
I prefer to use ( is "one who engages in a pursuit,
study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession."
It is important to note than nowhere in this definition does the word
quality occur. In fact, the word amateur itself is derived from the
Latin word for lover, amator.

The luckiest of professional musicians are paid to do what they love,
also, but some of the finest musicians I have played with in my life
make their living doing other things. They work other jobs so they
can play the kind of music they want to play when they want to play
it and I say "more power to them!". Thus, I cannot equate either
professionalism or amateurism with quantity or quality of skill. The
word I would use for people who lack both quantity and quality of
skill is "dilettante" and I know plenty of professional dilettantes
who get paid to play music and plenty of expert amateurs who don't get paid.

It seems to me the differentiation between professional and not
professional is not how one does it, but rather why one does. I
believe if one makes significant means of economical support
performing or creating music, one is a professional musician (now
whether one is a *good* professional...). Interestingly enough,
here's one of the definitions for "professional" offered by

participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of
endeavor often engaged in by amateurs <a professional golfer>


At 04:11 AM 12/30/2005, Gordon Ross wrote:
>IMHO, being "professional" is doing something to a certain (high)
>standard, usually backed up with the knowledge of why to do
>something in a certain way, rather than just because "it works".
>I don't think you need to be paid to be a professional. In life I've
>seen people who claim to be "professional" at their work (because
>they make a living from that skill) but are not professional in
>their skill & knowledge - i.e. *I* wouldn't pay them to do that job.

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