On a Scale From 1-10, How Do You Rate Yourself as a Musician?

As a musician, if you're asked how do you rate yourself on a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the very best musician you can possibly be, what would your answer be?

I’d rate myself with a 9. And yes, others might agree or disagree as their opinion of my musical ability would vary from person to person. Some would never rank me that high, but I have my reasons for picking that number.

The main reason I rate myself that high is because of the confidence in my ability. Forty-six years of doing music every single day certainly removes me from the rank of amateur. And since there are several good musicians out there who will tell you I was their teacher, that puts me on a higher rung of the ladder, does it not?

The second reason I give myself a 9 is because I actually do what is required of me as a musician. It takes hard work and dedication to become the very best you can be. That's not only in music, but everything we do in life requires that we learn our skill set first.

But what we do with what we learn is up to us. We either embrace it, and learn everything we can about it, or we simply say forget this, and flush everything we learned down the toilet, and watch it swirl away; an unused memory of what could have been. And yes folks, I’ve seen this happen before with discouraged artists. It's never glamorous or pretty, but it sure is sad.

But I chose to hang on to the talent I was given, and I enjoy passing it on for others to learn. I have four sons; three of them I’ve taught to play guitar, and they’re loving it so far. They practice every day whether I’m there or not. If they have music-based questions that need answers, I’ll answer them as honestly as I can. I’ll show them step by step, if that's what it takes to make them the musicians they want to be.

I was taught three chords: G, C, and D Major, and after that I pretty much taught myself. My dad and my mom used to kid me about what a determined and stubborn young man I was. Every dime I made, whether it was from cutting lawns or chores around the house that earned me a few cents, went on music literature, eight track tapes or LPs and 45’s. Whatever would help improve my knowledge and my ability I absorbed like a sponge. I surprised everyone who had doubted my stick-to-it dedication. I smiled. "See, I said I’d do it."

After all I’ve gone through to play guitar and to compose original songs, I consider myself a musician who never gave up on what I most loved doing. But then the phrase “give up” isn’t in my vocabulary. But 9 gives me room to grow and to continue learning more; I’d never claim myself as a 10 since that would imply I can’t go any higher, and arrogance I do not feel.

Maybe it’s best to follow the true words of my uncle Dean Couch: "Never give up and always put forth your best effort in all you do and you’ll be a happy person." Those words have been the guiding mantra that’s kept me going throughout my life.

So I ask all musicians: on a scale of 1-to-10, how do you rate yourself?

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JD Couch

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