One year ago this week is the last time I was on stage in the “old normal.” I played a Wednesday night rehearsal for a Saturday concert, and on Thursday morning I found out that the rest of the week was canceled.
And here’s the dirty truth – I was kind of giddy about it! The gig I was on was one I was not enthusiastic about. I was just in it for the money. The cancellation felt like a snow day. A free weekend that I hadn’t thought I would have! Steve had his week of work canceled as well, and we happily stocked up the pantry and hunkered down for the weekend to watch movies and stay safe from the virus that we were sure would pass in a few weeks so we could resume our lives.
You know what happened next, of course. By Friday things were shutting down left and right. In a single afternoon of emails we watched three months of upcoming work simply evaporate. GOOD WORK, too. Steve and I were making nearly our entire living from performance and it went pffft and didn’t come back for a year.
But – I dug in and began to innovate and iterate. I created group programs for oboists and I launched them and I ran them and I improved them and launched them again. Over the last year I ran three sessions of The Invincible Oboist, two of Zero to Reedmaker, and I created a weekly Reed Club which has been running consistently since May. I continued to sell reeds and reedmaking supplies through my website. I created a group warmup program which I’ve run twice. I’ve given 6 or 8 performances via livestream. I’ve met so many new people, and have had an absolutely amazing time, and it’s been making me so happy.
Now, today, It’s beginning to be time to get back on stage. The vaccines are rolling out, and I have some real concerts and work on my calendar starting next month. I’m delighted to go back to doing the thing I love to do. I love to be on stage, I love to be in FLOW, I love to create great music WITH OTHER HUMANS. I can’t wait.
But for the past year I have NOT had that feeling of dragging myself to a job that didn’t light me up. I have not been running constantly on empty, I have not come in at 1am and still gotten up at 7 to take Zoe to school and then done it all again. I have not watched the clock through an uninspiring rehearsal of dull music. And that’s been amazing too.
I’m looking forward to performing again.
But I don’t want it to be like before. I don’t want to be on gigs I’m not enjoying, I don’t want to feel resentful and underpaid. I want the concerts I play to thrill me, because the work I’m doing from home thrills me and now I know I can have that.
I’m aware of my own power now – I don’t have to accept work from a place of scarcity and panic and a false instinct that only by being busy am I being of value. I can set boundaries around my time and energy, and choose how I want to be, because I have built my business to a place that provides abundance for my family. And I’m really proud of that!
Look, I almost didn’t share this. It feels like bragging, it’s definitely full of privilege, I know full well how lucky I am. But in addition to those true things, I am proud of the work I’ve been doing.
And if you, musician friend, are looking for something like this, if you are wishing for your own pivot or side project or revamp – I’d be happy to talk with you about what I’ve been doing and what you are thinking about.