Roland Gajate Garcia

9. Have A Great Attitude

Being a professional means being professional. “Being on time with all of your gear ready to go sounds obvious,” Gajate- Garcia says, “but I still see musicians who just don’t get it.” And those who don’t get it don’t last long. “I end up spending half my day preparing for the gig at night.”

Showing up with a positive attitude isn’t only important to your longevity, it shows in the music you play. “Playing music is a team activity, and having a positive attitude will add to the creative flow.” Gajate-Garcia says those who do the hiring might think, for instance, “‘Maybe I know a better drummer, but being around this guy makes us play better and makes the music feel good — it just makes everything flow better.’”

You never know when a good attitude will pay off. “One time I was talking to a flight attendant and telling her where I was going to play, and she said, ‘Oh, that’s funny, Smokey Robinson is in the front of the plane.’ And she’s like, ‘Do you want to go talk to him? Do you want to say hello?’ And I said, ‘Sure.’ And she brought me up there and I had a whole conversation with Smokey Robinson. And then later on I ended up playing with him on The Voice.”

10. Take Care Of Your Hands

“Being a hand drummer for most of my life,” Gajate-Garcia says, “I know how important it is to take care of your body.” It’s part of his daily routine and involves doing yoga, getting massages, seeing a chiropractor, stretching before and after performing, eating well, and getting an adequate amount of sleep. “Being a hand percussionist is a lot more physical, in my opinion, than playing with sticks. It takes some work and daily activity to take care of your hands.”

Recently, after doing an eight-hour rehearsal for Dancing With The Stars, he played a four-hour club gig. When he got home, he felt tightness in one of his shoulders and ended up stretching for about 20 minutes before going to sleep. “If you’re not aware of those kinds of things, later on they’ll become an issue.”

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