Interview with David Bertrand #4

by David Osah-Odjugo

  1. What made you want to become a musician? (A little background information)
  2. What is your creative process like?
  3. Do you have any hobbies or interests outside music?
  4. What is your least favorite part about being a musician?
  5. How do you balance music and other obligations?
  6. Do you ever get anxious before your shows?

David Bertrand grew up in the Trinidadian neighborhood of Cocorite. David’s main drive to become a musician started in high school. The high school he attended allowed him to choose his preferred vocational direction. David ended up choosing humanities, as he became a student of literature. On the side, he dabbled in arts and music. He joined the school’s Scout Troops band program throughout high school. As he studied literature, he became amazed by the eloquence of great speakers through poetry. However, he felt compelled to release that eloquence through his music. He felt that music was universally understood regardless of language and background, which could bring us all to a common understanding through emotion. Once he understood the power of music, David dedicated himself to being a musician by playing the flute.

Being a jazz musician, David has a creative process he goes through before his performances. Most of the time David improvises during his performances. This means he is composing music “on the spot.” To make sure he doesn’t go through any mental blocks, he tries to relax so he could remember all the things he’s already practiced. The fundamentals he’s learned as a musician and as a flutist such as basic scales and triads. This approach makes him more flexible in playing rhythms.

David has put in thousands of hours of practice and even though he’s dedicated to being a musician, it doesn’t mean he likes the practice. Before he got married, he put in four to six hours a day which didn’t include performing or rehearsing with other musicians. With David, the practice had to be constant. If he went a week without practicing, he started to feel disconnected from his instruments. When COVID hit, his entire musical routine came to a halt since there were other priorities. That’s when he realized that even if he’s been playing for over 20 years, something as small as a one-week break could hinder him.

That isn’t the only battle he goes through as a musician. Before he goes on stage, David experiences some anxiety before his performances. Since he plays the flute, which isn’t that loud, he must bring his amplification set up. He worries that he won’t be heard due to the other instruments. Instruments like the drums, trumpet, or saxophone have great respect amongst the audience. Due to this, he’s concerned that the flute won’t hold its own compared to the louder instruments. He gets over this anxiety by realizing that communication is key and not worrying about the opinions of others. David makes sure his sound is heard by communicating with the sound person to find the optimum volume so people could hear the instrument. He prides himself to put on his best performance on stage to change the opinions of those who don’t see the flute as a great instrument.

Although David loves being a musician, he does have other interests outside of music. David is married and has a daughter. His wife is very different from him as she tends to be more adventurous. He usually ends up doing the things she likes to do. Things like traveling and going on hikes. Currently, David enjoys watching movies, exercising, and hanging out with his friends. He did want to try kickboxing but with him being a dedication to his wife, daughter, and music, he’ll probably try it when he’s older.

One thing David knows is that his family comes first. His wife and daughter are his main obligations. Although his family appreciates his gift with music, he’s aware that his family loves him whether he plays music or not. He’s learning how to make sure he gives his family the proper time and attention they deserve, especially since the birth of his daughter two years ago. This makes David more efficient when he has his time, making sure he’s intentional during those moments to practice and perfect his craft. Finding that balance has allowed him to enjoy the presence of those that love him without his mind elsewhere.