Posted by Rick Denney on March 05, 2004 at 14:05:34:
In Reply to: Life Choices... Passion vs Practical posted by ben on March 05, 2004 at 10:17:20:
I've fought this battle, but not with the choice of being a musician. I was never talented enough to earn the daily bread with music, and I knew it.
I'm older than you, and at the time in my life when I wonder what it's all about in professional terms. I've found that the profession that has provided so much of my identity in the past has moved away from me, valuing those who have learned recipes rather than those who can cook without recipes, because they are cheaper. So I'm largely paid to write cookbooks, and considered an Old Fart by the energetic fresh recuits. (Not food cookbooks, of course, but within my engineering field.) It's not as fun, and not as rewarding on a personal level. But the pay is good.
I keep doing it because it feeds me and my family, and gives me the resources to pursue things that interest me more.
I have had to deal with the notion that what pays is rarely, if ever, what satisfies on a personal level. Even musicians find this to be the case. Symphony tuba players spend their days trying to get motivated to practice for that 9-note lick in Dvorak, teaching students only a few of which "get it", fighting musician's union battles, and playing orchestra politics. It's not what they expected when they were in college spending 8 hours a day playing stuff that challenged them to their core.
In my journey, I've learned that it is dangerous to let your job define you. Many musicians make this mistake, and when those orchestra committees and union negotiations interfere with their ideal of a music profession, their motivation also collapses.
So, vizualize yourself in a tiny Manhattan apartment, owning no car, teaching at local high schools during the day and taking the subway to gigs every night, and still barely able to pay rent. Or, imagine yourself living in the poor section of town, driving a ten-year-old car to gigs (many of which you hate) up to a hundred miles away every night (i.e., the Freeway Philharmonic), and still teaching kids during the day. And still being barely able to pay the rent. Make sure you imagine your family there with you (and imagine what how they would like that life). If none of that bothers you (or them) as much as not playing music, then maybe you'll have the tenacity to succeed.
I have dreamed of quitting engineering, and opening a photography studio. Or a garage. Or a bike shop. Or learning the instrument repair trade. Or possibly even a one-man engineering firm. I can demonstrate some competency or aptitude in all those areas, but I'd bet that they would all be just as boring as what I'm doing after a while, if I had to do them professionally.
Happiness is a choice you make. Don't let your job make it for you.
Rick "who has scars to show" Denney