When it comes to work, being great at your craft is SO IMPORTANT! It is what separates you from the rest of the population that may be going for the same job as you. It is what adds value to the work that you do and it is what helps inspire others to become good at their own craft. After releasing a rock/pop EP in 2010, I fell in love with the Piano and realised that I wanted to become a full-time working musician. The only problem was that I was good at what I did, but I wasn't great, especially for the kind of music that I wanted to play.
Here are a list of things that I keep tabs on when working on my craft.
The Fundamentals: There's nothing worse then not being able to play the music because of a lack of fundamental facility or theory. There's nothing worse then not being able to teach a concept to a masterclass because I lack the communication skills necessary to get the learning across. Our gaps in knowledge often become painfully obvious at the worst possible time ie at a Jam session or in front of a class. Lacking fundamental knowledge is just a big no!
The aspects that you love about your craft: These are the things that help you to stand out from the rest. You've got well rounded knowledge but being a specialist in an area can add tremendous value to a situation. It may be a style of playing or a method of teaching that works for you. These things help you to stand out from the crowd.
Your attitude: Apart from the practical aspects of your craft, your attitude plays a HUGE role. When things aren't looking so good and there's not much to salvage of a situation, remaining composed can be the best thing you can do. Often times I've worked with difficult people which have left me wanting to run for the door or to fly off the handle at them. Once you've lost it, you've shown to everyone that you're a potential bomb waiting to explode with some people. If you simply can't work with some people, remove yourself from the situation so that it never gets to that point. You'll keep your dignity and happiness. Attitude is key!
These are just a few points that can hopefully steer you in the right direction today as you work on becoming better at your own craft. Let me know what you think is important to know when working on your craft.
P.S. Some content that I create doesn't have any commercial outlet and I'll try and share more of that here.
Here's a transcription of d'Angelo's "Really Love" String Introduction. I'm using the Korg Kronos string sample library and have layered ensemble strings with a nice solo string patch which definitely works nicely in a live situation.