It’s officially fall! That dry breeze is back the air, and my arsenal of boots and scarves is ready to mobilize. This is my favorite time to live in NYC, because with the new season comes the beginning of many classical seasons, and hopefully a slew of new dates in my book. I hope you all find yourselves playing datebook Tetris very soon.
With this new workload often comes that wave of dread when the black ink layers upon itself and you wonder “how am I going to play THIS much music?” If it doesn’t come in these crucial months, it can get extremely depressing and frustrating, and it seems like there’s no way to ever just be happy. Is there ever a state of being a musician where there’s no reason to complain?
I was involved in a social media exchange, as we all are at some point, where a musician was referring to another statement in which a musician was loudly complaining about playing a pops concert, and questioning the validity of even including this rep on a symphonic concert season. While that is another issue entirely, the point of the post I was commenting on was “if you don’t want to play, find a sub that does”. As we all know, it’s just not that simple.
When you’re responsible for a full concert season or an open-ended run of shows, it’s really hard to justify burning excess mental and physical calories, or even risking an injury, on one performance. More often than not, orchestras have back-to-back weeks of pops and heavy symphonic lifting, so it’s frightening to look at a heavy calendar and leave as much space for a movie program as a Bruckner symphony. And, as any good Broadway musician knows, it’s great to enjoy the show, but it’s imperative to remember to run a marathon when you really want to sprint. Even the employed are worried about keeping the work they have.
And for those of us that don’t have any work on the calendar next month, or find ourselves without a permanent place to thrive and plan, it can feel daunting to know that many other musicians out there are facing this issue in real time, when we would be happy to pick up the scraps. It can be incredibly hard to hear someone complaining about “so much work” and “this is not worth my time”. So much of this just comes back to kindness, doesn’t it? Everyone is fighting their own battle, and so much happiness is ruined by a lack of empathy or being mindful of their audience.
So the next time you’re feeling swamped and worried, take a few deep breaths and know you’re capable due to the very fact that you’re getting those calls, or you won that audition, and look at that crazy month as a strength-building exercise. And if you find yourself with lots of extra time to practice and obsess about why you’re not working, take a walk in a beautiful park and look around. Know that many of the people you see are waiting next to their T-Mobile phones like you are, and many are seriously worried about how they’re going to stay where they are. It’s really true that all musicians are the same, we just face different levels of the same issue, and we’re all just worried about our futures.
And one more thing: take a break from the news feed and go outside. Look up and away from your phone screen…you know, after you finish reading this blog post! 😃