Aaron Hill: Take the “Streets” to Musical Success

Among the various interesting sessions at the third annual Baltimore Jazz Conference (October 16) was a talk by pianist Aaron Hill. He built his talk around the acronym, “STREETS,” where each letter stands for a practice or attitude or principle that should be followed by any person looking for success as a musician—or in endeavor involving an interface with the public.

The first “S” stands for sustenance.  You must ask yourself, what feeds or sustains you? What feeds your audience? A successful musician feeds both herself and her listeners.

The first “T” stands for trust. You must trust yourself and trust others. Be authentic, be vulnerable, be transparent. Trust yourself enough to take the risk of trying something new and learning from it.

“R” stands for roots. Water your own roots, maintain your craft, nurture your soul. And then build an audience from grassroots, and water it. Pour yourself into people, one at a time. Build relationships and community. Then take the music to the people.

The first “E” stands for empathy – for yourself and for your audience—a companion to “trust.” Tune into and accept your own feelings; tune into and accept the feelings of your audience.

The second “E” stands for equanimity, or balance. In your musical journey, you’ll have successes, and you’ll have failures. You can’t let the successes lull you into complacency, and you can’t let the failures crush you into paralysis. Keep yourself grounded and centered.

The second “T” stands for tools. Use digital tools such as online music platforms to help build and audience.

The last “S” stands for sustainability. Your profession as a musician needs to be sustainable, just like any endeavor. Set realistic goals, and be diligent in pursuing them.

Aaron Hills’ “STREETS” principles have led him to be a successful musician who makes connections with his audience, one whose scores of free public outdoor “street serenades” have indeed brought his music to “the people.” You might hear more wisdom from Aaron Hill on his weekday morning talks via an online audio program called Clubhouse. You can hear him play keyboard at the Monday night jam session at Terra Café. And learn more at aaronhilltv.com.

–Liz Fixsen

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