I’ve been thinking recently about work. What kind of work do I want to be doing? This is a multi-level question. Right now, I work 25ish hours a week at a day job which is entirely unrelated to the arts or music at all. I think it’s time to find a better gig, and I absolutely want that to be a music or arts-related job.
But within music, what do I want to do? I currently teach and play a few contemporary classical type gigs, but I recently was in a pit, (the best, though not entirely accurate description of that job). I’ve done church gigs, weddings, rock music, chamber music, subbed in orchestras and meditation music in the past. I just started the process of planning a collaboration that will probably be semi-improvised, new-music-ky, multimedia project. I like doing all of these things, some more than others, but in general, getting paid to play my flute. So how do I focus my time? How do I create a profession out of this that enables me to pay my rent, and (gasp) maybe buy things occasionally? Most of the jobs I find are administration jobs. “This arts organization needs a manager.” “This other arts organization needs a grant-writer.” Can I spin my music/collegiate career into something that suddenly qualifies me for this other side of music that doesn’t involve playing an instrument? Do I even want to try?
Being a musician involves a certain amount of uncertainty, or maybe insecurity is the word i really mean. I have a day job because I’m not certain when the next gig will be, or if they’ll offer to pay me for my time. While this is exciting, having no set schedule, not working in a cubicle, doing something creative, and following my passion, sometimes I wish it was a little more stable. This also makes me wonder about the future of the arts. Will all the really creative, talented young musicians decide they need a “real” job, something with health insurance and a consistent schedule and paycheck when they get out of they start a family? What will the world lose because their young talent and enthusiasm never got the chance to mature into something brilliant? What if Stravinsky had decided being a composer was too chancy and became banker, completely missing the entire collaboration with the Ballet Russe? No Rite of Spring? No Firebird? What might this generation accomplish in 20 years? In 20 years, how many of my colleagues will have chosen financial security over avant-garde music and art? What might never be? Has music changed so much that no one’s art really gets to mature, because no one currently writing and being performed has had enough life experience to write truly great music? What if just a few people got to continue their artistic journey and see what they grow into? What if more than just a few did?