Crazy life as a musician

Let’s be honest, being a musician full time is a crazy occupation.  For one thing it keeps us on our toes all the time.  There’s hardly a dull moment in our careers since there’s always music to work on, students to teach, and a list of things that haven’t been accomplished yet.  Can you relate?  For me this is exciting stuff, although really exhausting at the same time (my wife can definitely attest to this while also being a relatively new mother and balancing freelance harp gigs).  In just the last few weeks I have begun to realize a few things about about being ‘in the business of music’.  First, music is more about people than it is about music.  On Saturday mornings I teach a basic-level theory class to kids approx. ages 11-14 in the UT String Project and although I’m instructing them about the circle of 5ths, chord inversions, minor scales, etc. I am really teaching them about life.  People make music… the notes on the paper just give us a starting point for performing.

Secondly, music is a way of life for most of us.  Music is self-encompassing and demands every ounce of inspiration, determination, and effort.  Yet, aside from the struggles it can be very rewarding.  The whole concept of working towards a goal and collaborating with others has become second nature to me.  It’s a must in the orchestral setting.  Ever wonder how you can get 80 different people to play different versions of the same thing at the same time for a harmonious result?  I bet you couldn’t get 80 secretaries in an office to type the same letter at the same time and all finish together.  However, on the flip-side to that thought, musicians have to be tremendously independent in order to succeed and do well on their own.  Not to generalize, but I think a lot of musicians that have done well have used entrepreneurial skills, taken risks, and “thought outside the box”.  It’s a strange dichotomy… I know.  But that’s people again!

Finally, it’s not always about music for me. Sometimes it is way more enjoyable for me to listen to news, talk radio, etc. on the radio during the commute home rather than listen to music.  I find I need to keep myself fresh and the only way to do that is through avoiding listening to music all the time.  Of course having a family changes everything, so it’s pretty near impossible to practice at home whenever I wanted- like I used to!  To conclude, life is very much a fluid thing.  Music in high doses isn’t for everybody, and high doses of anything for that matter isn’t very good so I’m just trying to find the best moments in music and leave it at that!


About tunedin4ths

David Ballam Doctoral Student at the University of Texas at Austin Doublebass Instructor: UT String Project & Round Rock School District BLOG: WEB:
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