If you happen to be a brass musician, December can feel like a gauntlet! There can be so many extra gigs this time of the year, you can just stay running all day long. That’s if you’re lucky!
In seasons past, I was running from early December until the 25th…or really through New Years. I remember a time when everything seemed to land on the same weekend. It started on Saturday with Goldfarb Nursing School graduation, 9:00 am, followed by a noon Low Brass Play along, then a 2:00 and 7:30 Symphony Pops, then Sunday Church gig in Illinois, followed by a 2:00 Pops gig. Six gigs in a little over 24 hours! Just thinking about it now makes me tired!
I often felt I couldn’t turn anything down. Partly from days when I was a free lancer, and you never turned down a gig. Partly to make some extra Holiday money. But I also think something else was in play.
I think I equated being busy with being important. I mean, look at all the people that NEED me to play! Surely I must be important! Funny thing, I’m not there now and they seem to be getting along without me. I can’t imagine how?
Being a musician, the work often is not enough, and then, too much. It can be hard to have a steady work flow, make the money we all need to get by, and not be overwhelmed. And now, I think back, what happened to all that “extra” money I made? Did I really need to take all those gigs? Could I have spent a little more time at home with my family?
As a free lancer, you need to take the work when it’s coming in, as you never know how long it will last. Any gig you play could turn into another call. If you say no, you never know what else you might miss out on. So I get it.
But I had a steady job. What was my motivation? Of course some of it also is just fun. I do enjoy playing, so there’s that.
But now that my daughter is grown, and living across the country from us, I sure would like to have some of that time back.
So my advice, now that I’m just sitting in my rocker on the porch everyday, reliving the glory days in my mind… don’t be so busy that you don’t look around every once in a while, and enjoy the moment. Trust me, they go by fast.
You may have heard the phrase, youth is wasted on the young? Well I think a better way of putting it may be, you don’t always know what you have until it’s gone, or maybe, appreciate all the moments of your life, they only happen once. Sometimes I thought it would always be that way, but life changes, and it’s good to be present to every day, regardless of how many we get.
So as you rush around, trying to find time for everything in your busy life, try to take a moment here or there, and just be present to the now of your life. Your friends, family, job, could all go on for a good long time, or they may be gone in a flash. We just never know. Try not to assume anything.
Even the many Nutcrackers I used to play were special, even though they may not have felt that way to me at the time. Sure, it may be number 14 of a run of 32, and you’ve played it 100 times before, but for some youngster in the audience, it’s their first and maybe only time.
If we choose to play music, it’s because it is a passion. Making it a career can sometimes take the luster off it a bit. Try and remember how truly magical it is. See it through the eyes of your audience, those people who come to be moved by it.
Enjoy the music, the present moment, the special thing it is to be alive. We go around once, depending on your beliefs, make it count, don’t sleep through it!
Take a moment, breath in, smell the dusty pit, taste the coffee on your breath, your fourth cup today, listen to your colleagues warm up. You won’t be there forever, even though sometimes it may feel like it!
I read a book years ago by Dan Millman, called No Ordinary Moments. Something to ponder, a worthy goal, living as if there truly are none.
You may not think so now, but you might just agree with the concept a bit more….when you get a few more miles down the road.
Just some passing thoughts, from an old guy, in a rocker, on the porch.