This is a guest post from my friend and colleague Jim Neglia. Jim has followed his passions his entire life, and recently finished his book, “Onward and Upward”; a truly inspirational story about the relentless determination it takes to succeed in the arts.
Any aspiring artist, would-be world traveler, or entrepreneur, will benefit from reading this book. Learn from another’s experience about dedication, passion, and culture. Partly by behind-the-scene memoirs, partly by means of journal entries, we will walk hand in hand on this most extraordinary journey through a life in the arts.
“There is only one success—to be able to spend your life in your own way.”—Christopher Morley
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a professional musician. I began my quest hoping beyond hope that my desire alone would be enough to magically propel me to stardom. I soon learned that there are no shortcuts to success, no magic wands to wave; and that my desire was just the tip of the iceberg of what was actually needed. Therefore I changed my approach. I began to settle into a groove that took me on a journey of unparalleled proportions. The journey began by spending countless hours in an eight feet by eight feet practice room for up to ten hours a day, determined to sharpen my skills as a budding percussionist. The beginning years were extremely crucial: I felt it was either sink or swim. It was imperative that my dedication take root and ultimately evolve into my desired profession.
All the hard work, sweat, tears, anxiety, passion, and love ultimately paid off.. Years later, I found myself performing with wonderful orchestras and chamber groups, both in the United States and throughout Europe. I had realized an unimaginable goal.
Many years later, I focused my energy on the next stages in my career: contracting. I saw firsthand, from the perspective of the musician, what it takes to be a successful contractor. Focusing on productions, presentations, preparations, and details seemed a logical starting place. It was during my early performance days that I found myself fascinated by seeing how productions unfolded before my eyes. I thought to myself, Someone had to hire the musicians, work with the union, prepare payroll, and be accountable for the day’s events. The more I learned, the more I wanted that person to be me. It was during this transition period from musician to producer that I began keeping detailed notes on how I could best succeed. I also took notes on many other topics, some of which I have included in the pages to come. All the while, I kept my performance chops up to snuff.
Keeping a Journal
More time passed, and I found myself sifting through endless pages of notes, stories, and thoughts I had jotted down over the years. There were such a variety of offerings; I knew I needed to begin organizing my thoughts more carefully. In doing so, I was able to choose some of the more ridiculous, interesting, sad, scary, absurd, but hopefully mostly entertaining situations to share with you.
There were many people responsible for nurturing, prodding, and pushing me to offer these stories. They knew exactly when the support was needed the most. These are the same people who, years before, had pushed me to work harder on the music I was preparing. They are the same people who picked me up from the practice room floor when I had fallen asleep from exhaustion. They are the people who helped push me beyond the limits of the normal, and they showed me how to achieve the impossible. These are the people who have helped make my life as successful as it could be. I wish to thank them all. I think of my dear friend Ray, mentor Chuck, brother Joe, wife Alexandra, and a number of others who helped show me that hard work and determination were indeed a good thing. Be relentless in your passion and steadfast in your drive, and you will achieve all that is possible.
The 3 “D’s”
In the pursuit of any career, one needs the proper guidance and support. This idea, along with the ability to recognize the help offered to succeed, were constant thoughts in my mind. I was taught about the three Ds, all of which have served as daily reminders to stay on the road of my chosen path. Drive, determination, and devotion have served me well. I have kept these principles in the forefront of my being all these years. Unyielding determination always rose to the top of my daily thoughts and routine. I was fortunate during the early days to recognize these essential elements, and with steps, albeit baby ones, I slowly turned each step traveled into feet, yards, and later miles.
Jim Neglia is a veteran force in the Performing Arts. He has been a working percussionist as well as music contractor, personnel manager and music coordinator for more than 25 years, working closely with some of the best-known names in the industry. Jim covers the entire gamut of music production and performance. For relaxation, Jim enjoys traveling, reading, writing and keeping his website, www.JimNeglia.com up to date. Click here to purchase Onward and Upward.