Recently there was a great thread about calling oneself a “composer.” It started with Randy Nordschow’s thread on NewMusicBox, with its inflammatory assertion that “¦ “it’s time to face the fact that, yes, maybe we really aren’t composers.” He also states that if you aren’t making the bulk of your income from composing, you are really a “hobbyist.” This was cause for some great discussion as well as soul searching for many readers of NewMusicBox and Sequenza21. One term in Randy’s post that some readers really balked at was “hobbyist.”

Whenever there is an attempt to label me, or what I do, I usually shrug. Any word would only label a part of who I am, and many times the word can only be a useful description in limited circumstances. I’m on record as saying I call myself “musician,” a term I find more flexible, than composer, performer, or teacher. While I didn’t become as enraged as some over the word “hobbyist” (I’ve certainly been called worse!) I did notice that something didn’t feel right about it. While a good argument could be made for the term, it just didn’t feel accurate. While I never could gather words that concisely explain why, I did manage to come up with an analogy that is perhaps useful.

If someone doesn’t make their living in Buddhism, can they really be a Buddhist, or is Buddhism merely their hobby?

Hats off to Randy, for a great conversation starter!

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