Where I think about life as a professional musician
In college, I made a decision . . . I would not pursue a life as a musician, and instead, take the more-reliable income of an engineer. And, for the most part, this is a choice that I’ve been happy with.
But, those of you who follow me closely might realize that music is finding its way back into my life . . . and I’m doing little to keep it out. But, when my world is going about like mine is, right now, well, I’m forced to think back on this college decision.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from the music director of the Carlisle Theater Company. He was double booked for the last weekend in October, and he really needed someone to cover for him for a murder mystery dinner theater production. As it was a weekend I wasn’t already booked, I said “sure.”
Then there wasn’t much of anything . . . until the Sunday before the Saturday show. I got an email saying “Rehearsals are all week from 1-5, and I hope to have the music in the next day or so.”
Flash-back to that decision in college . . . because now? Yeah, I kind of work, so I’m kind of busy from 1-5 every day. And, less than a week before the show, the music was still not secured. Wow.
In addition to the 1-5 rehearsal, on Wednesday, there was a separate technical rehearsal from 7 until whenever Wednesday night . . . so that’s when I actually got my hands on the music. And I realized that, not only was I playing piano in a 4 piece band (piano, guitar, bass, and drums), but I was leading the band. And that I wouldn’t be playing with anybody that I’d be playing the show with . . . until the show.
Wednesday night, I rehearsed until a little after 11pm, getting through a little under half of the show . . . Thursday night, as leader of the band, I called a pit-only rehearsal, just so that I might be able to play some of the music with other musicians before I play in front of a crowd.
If I had hair, I’d be pulling it out . . . I’m a decent-enough pianist, but I’m not the world’s best sight reader. And now I’m sight reading, and sight-directing, an entire show (seriously, I hope to be able to play through all of the songs this evening and tomorrow, just to have them under my fingers, but I won’t have played over half the showe with anyone but myself before I’m put on the spot).
If I’m serious with myself . . . the “not knowing what’s coming next,” the “not really knowing how I’m going to pull this off,” well, it’s all part of “being a musician.” During a live show, things go wrong . . . it’s the good musicians who are able to not let it affect them. If everything seemed to go easily now – well, I’d fear things were going “too well.”
But, in the middle of the chaos, which is actually driving me crazy, I can’t shake the fact that “I’m having fun.”
I realize that any job actually becomes a job . . . for as much as I want to be a performer, or a writer,
or a professional masturbator, or a songwriter, or the catcher for the New York Yankees . . . if I were actually those things, I’d “be going to work.” The novelty would wear off . . . but I can’t shake that, if I were actually creating something fun and I had the feedback of putting smiles on people’s faces . . . well, I’d be a bit more fulfilled.
note to self, get yourself writing, a lot. Now.