Q&A Spotlight: A Musician’s Resolutions for 2014
Your Performance Partners: Any artistic resolutions for 2014?
Wagner: As a player, it boils down to always improving my craft. It’s important to continue growing or you plateau and get stagnant. If you feel you’ve got nothing to improve, why consider yourself a musician?
I’m interested in redefining who I am as a musician, branching away from being considered only a saxophonist or woodwind player to being truly multifaceted. I’ve done everything from professional opera singing to playing in leading pit orchestras in the Twin Cities to working as a concert oboist in New York.
Your Performance Partners: How do you find time to improve?
Wagner: If you want to do it, you make time. I don’t have solid blocks of time like I did in college. Now I often practice late, maybe even the middle of the night because I’m a light sleeper. I also carve out practice time between shows. For example, if we have a three-hour break I’ll catch a quick lunch and practice for 90 minutes.
Your Performance Partners: Any business-side resolutions?
Wagner: I’m focused on finishing my first solo album by the summer and then promoting it. I play for artistic reasons – I have musical ideas in my head that I want to get out. This album is the natural next step: it’s the most visceral, primal showcase of who you are as a musician
My album will be a huge calling card; I’ll be able to promote myself without being in the room. And people will vote with their wallets whether they like it or not. I’ll use every social media channel I know to promote it; I’ve also planned a small tour.
Your Performance Partners: How do you find gigs?
Wagner: Mainly through personal connections, including teachers and mentors. For example, a former instructor knew I wanted to take the next step as an artist and helped plug me into a New York gig with an R&B cover band.
You make your own path, but it’s also a matter of being in the right place at the right time. I’m on the phone and e-mail a lot, staying in touch with people. I’m relentless. The market is competitive – there is always someone knocking on the door trying to take your gig.
Benjamin D. Wagner’s career as a performing artist has taken him throughout the Midwest, East Coast and Los Angeles working in jazz, musical theatre, operatic performance and even improv comedy. He also offers private instruction in multiple instruments and dance. Wagner has a degree in saxophone performance from Minnesota State University and has been playing professionally for five years. Visit his website for more.