Hello again, hope everyone is decompressing on this Sunday night and getting ready for what's hopefully a quiet Monday morning! My average day is over by 9pm. The babies are asleep, the toys are picked up, the kitchen is cleaned, and it's too late to practice anymore. I sit in the dead quiet while reconnecting with the pug and watching an episode of a reality show, preferably one with food! As is my wont to do, I started wondering why I can't get enough of this seemingly junky TV.
I enjoy any reality show that features people with a talent or a craft, because there are naturally so many parallels between what other creative people do and what we do as musicians. There's something that resonates with me about processing these thoughts away from the horn: maybe I find it reaffirming that the experiences I have every day are not as isolating as it seems like they are. Here's a list of some things I've been thinking about recently.
People that stay true to themselves do well
No matter how crazy the challenges are, the truly talented people find a way to get through them with their aesthetic somehow intact. The shows themselves are kind of abusive, and structure the episodes in a way that these people are sleep-deprived and constantly being surprised, probably because more drama will ensue among people that are not quite themselves. Still, in the midst of all the chaos, the people most committed to their craft will last the longest in these shows. They also take a minute to look at what's happening around them, and think about what they bring to the table that makes them unique.
People that play strategically also do well
Every now and then, a contestant will find a way to adhere to the strict language of a challenge better than someone else, or will find a way to hoard ingredients or materials in a way that blocks out other people. These people are talented enough to gain that upper-hand, and are often hyper-aware of the intentions and weaknesses of the people around them. Often, these people target others and dwell on the conflicts. It's very possible that these politics are blown out of proportion to make better TV, but it gets boring to watch after a while. There's also that one person that never takes risks and is consistently in the middle of the pack, and is perfectly content to stay there. As the season goes on, it becomes clearer and clearer that they're not ready to stand alone over the other competitors.
People that aren't prepared don't do well
As I watch these shows and get caught up in the personal lives of the people competing, it's beyond frustrating to watch a talking head segment of someone incredibly talented complaining about how they can't sew or they can't make a dessert and then don't want to. If I'm rooting for that person, I automatically just roll my eyes, especially if that show has multiple seasons. Maybe the contestants don't know what will come at them in any given episode, but if I knew I was going to be in the show, I would watch all the past episodes I could and think "maybe I should practice desserts", or "maybe I should take some acting classes to get ready for this."
The person that is the most them they can be wins
There are some seasons of these shows where everyone works at such a high level that you honestly can't guess who will win the show. As it culminates in the ultimate final challenge where there are less guidelines and more creative freedom, you finally get a full picture of who they are as craftsmen, and where they are in their artistic journey. It's so interesting to me that, although you prefer the style of one person over another, it's really obvious who has a full package to present, and who has a little polishing to do. In those final moments, it's bittersweet to think that, in a different time and place, the runner-up could be finishing first instead of the person who is chosen to win.
So why do I watch?
I love getting a different perspective on my own personal journey through other mediums, and other artists that are having a similar journey to mine. Hopefully by this point, it's not a surprise that this is not exactly where I'd hoped to end up in my career. I believe that an orchestral career is the most me that I can be, and that I can make a section better with my voice as a person and a player. I am happy with the way that I sound, but I do have a handful of issues that I'm working through. I'm in between instruments and I'm refining the position I play in, among other technical issues that I'm always trying to improve. Right now, I think I'm the guy you root for that is talented, but doesn't know how to follow through at the end, or second-guesses themselves at the worst times.
The truth is, when I play my best, I know it and don't have a second thought about it. I'm as prepared as I can be when I play a job, and I could definitely be more strategic about getting jobs and keeping them, but I am true to myself in that I know exactly what I need to do to prepare and perform my best. I also know that this time in my life is full of possibility, transitions, and happiness too. I am immensely grateful for the time I have with my two little roommates, and my two big roommates too. I am trying to take things one day at a time, and use these precious hours when the sun is up to refine my product, and work through these issues that I know need to be addressed. When the time is right and my package is the most complete, I will win. I will get those phone calls and work offers. And when the moon is up and there's no more playing that can be done at home, I'll be hanging out with earbuds and a pug...and maybe a glass of wine. Probably a glass of wine. :)