Is your job keeping you from doing your job? This phenomenon never ceases to amaze me. In the cello-ing biz, this might mean you’re spending your time answering emails, compiling a report for your university or finding creative ways to use the potty at an airport with your cello in tow. You might think, “none of these things are helping me bow parts, learn rep or play better in tune.” Most musicians would classify anything not directly related to a high quality performance as keeping them from the important stuff — and usually it’s true. “Make work” is “make work,” and I promise you, I’ve had my share of it.
Starting over in a new career has reminded me of what it was like to be in my first job, sitting in meetings where I had absolutely no say in whatever the meeting was about, for instance. Pretending to adjudicate students in full knowledge that my actual purpose was window dressing. Starter jobs often expect employees to participate in fictions. And let’s face it, fresh out of school, most can barely find our own butts if it weren’t for our bosses who were so deft at handing them to us. “Here’s your butt. Now pretend your job matters. There’s a good boy/girl.” The newly minted worker has to learn the ropes. If you’re teaching at the community college of such and such, your students aren’t going to be the Curtis Institute of Music’s second, third, or even fiftieth choices. (Did you expect them to be?)
Also, when you’re just starting out, you’d like to think that your trajectory is up, despite the economy or job market. Yet, how many job openings were there for full-time section cello nationally in the past six months? Anyone? I don’t get the International Musician anymore, so I haven’t been following it. (I’ll spit ball: three?) How many people looking for those jobs? Besides those graduating from all the first, second and third tier schools this year, don’t forget to factor those who have already been in the work force for years. People who have been scraping by on the “freeway philharmonic” and teaching, or recently lost their gig when their orchestra folded — they’re in line for that gig too. In fact, if this is meaningful to you at all — why aren’t you practicing right now?
Of course, you’re probably reading this instead of compiling your annual report, answering emails or you’re crammed in a bathroom stall with your cello and smart phone. Anything to procrastinate the thing that is keeping you from the thing that is keeping you from bowing parts, learning rep, or practicing to play better in tune.
Glad I could help.