People always seem to want to know how long you've been playing. I don't know if it's because they want to see if there's still time for them, or if they're hoping for some crazy answer like "I just started 5 months ago!", or if it's really the only question they can think of asking a musician. Of course, it's better than "what do you do for, you know, a living?"
Me, I've been playing trombone for about 30 years. I played the piano since I was 5, too, and I've always been a singer. I come from a musical family, my brother is a bass player, my mom sings in choirs, her uncle was a singer, and my uncle was a piano player.
They also want to know why I picked the trombone. "You must really have been drawn to it." Actually, I picked oboe first in middle school because my mom had played it and we had one, but the instrument was in such bad shape I quit after a few weeks. Then I picked trumpet but there were already too many in the band and I liked the brass sound, so I got trombone. Not the most inspiring origin story but I love everything about playing trombone now so it all worked out pretty well.
I left home at 18 to go to music school at McGill in Montreal. I'm very close with my family so I wasn't leaving to run away, I just went where I needed to go to learn and play music. Montreal is only about 2 hours from my hometown of Ottawa, so going home was easy too.
My first regular gig was with a wedding band in Ottawa, and I would travel back there on weekends to play those. There's really no substitute for actually playing gigs if you want to learn to be a musician.
I joined the Armed Forces Reserves at 18 as a summer job, and stayed in the Forces as a musician until I left Canada. They helped me pay my way through school, taught me a lot of things about having a job and being an adult, and I met a lot of lifelong friends there. I actually served in all 3 branches (Army, Navy, Air Force), which I expect is fairly rare.
I moved to New York City in 2000 to go to Manhattan School of Music, and I've been here ever since. I'm lucky enough to play music with some of my favorite musicians in the world and make a living doing it.
Sometimes I'm very proud of some of the stuff I've accomplished, and sometimes I feel like I've barely done anything and nobody cares. I guess that's probably pretty normal.
I have a wife and two daughters and that's simultaneously the most heart-fillingly wondrous delight and the most challenging part of being a full-time musician. But they undoubtedly ease my burdens.
I hope to write and play music for a long, long time. I hope you hear it, and enjoy it, some day.