Monday, March 23, 2015

spring?

This morning I woke up to 5" of fresh snow on the ground and stayed home with a sick kid, which kind of makes it feel like we're dialing right back to winter instead of heading into spring, no matter what the calendar says. One thing is for sure, the semester is gearing up like it always does. I am collaborating with several UW students, including accompanying a couple of graduate recitals and working with a handful of singers in addition to my [part time] teaching job and family responsibilities. I'm being stretched to the limit here, maybe beyond it a little.


My front yard this morning when I got up. I nearly wept.
My whole adult life I've worked as a musician, and thus my whole adult life I've had an unconventional work schedule. If you put me in an office and told me to stay there until 5:00 and then go home I wouldn't know what to do. Actually, I do know: I'd probably revel in the freedom of leaving work at work and then after about three days I'd cry from boredom. The truth is, I love what I do and I'm good at it. In some ways I'm still finding my niche, though lately I've been working mostly with singers and wind players (I'm starting to be concerned about hearing loss, actually, though I haven't noticed it yet.)

One of the hardest parts about working as a musician is the hours. In some ways it's nice to be able to work around the kids' school schedule and have summers off with them. But other times it's mayhem. Sometimes I have rehearsals on weekends or weekday evenings because that's the only time I can fit in with someone else's schedule.

The other hard part about being a performing musician is that you can not miss things because no one else can step in for you. And if I have to cancel a rehearsal because one of my kids is sick, I don't get paid. Occasionally extraordinary circumstances call for creative solutions. For instance, a couple weekends ago at the regional solo/ensemble contest (for middle and high school students) I got a desperate call from a horn teacher whose student had just found out her pianist was hospitalized and she needed me to fill in. I did so willingly, but it wasn't exactly a stunning performance on my part since I was sight reading the accompaniment. We got through it okay.

The last few weeks have just about broken me. As hard as I've tried to keep my schedule and playing responsibilities manageable, I've missed several days of practice time because of illness - mostly the kids, but I caught something two weeks ago that had me in bed for a whole day and not worth much the day after. I haven't missed rehearsals or teaching days, but I'm feeling stressed about the music I have to prepare and anxious because I do not have time to practice any of it.

Here's just a sample of my work this semester.

It's frustrating. It's also frustrating when I can see that my spouse thinks I'm working too much because I can't fit the work I have to do into the hours between 8am and 6pm. Funny how things like parenting and meal preparation take so much of that time.

Well. I'll pull through. I always do. And given how difficult the last few weeks have been, I'm glad I haven't taken on any more this semester. (Much as I would have liked to learn the Rachmaninoff cello sonata, the E-flat Hindemith horn sonata, and the Britten oboe variations - all amazing pieces, all devilishly difficult - I knew I couldn't, so I said no.) I will take things one day at a time, and tackle these projects one at a time, and I will do my best to get enough sleep and stay healthy. It's the smartest approach for me right now.

And also? There will likely be no Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! this week. There is an event at my kids' school tomorrow evening and they are both participating, so we'll probably just throw together sandwiches or even - gasp! - order a pizza in order to eat dinner and get there on time. We'll make up for it, though, I promise!

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