Often, people comment on how fun my line of work must be. After all, I get to “play” for a living! While it’s true that being a musician is a super-cool job, it’s definitely not all fun and games. Like my grandmother said, “The work must be done in order to play.”
As an independent musician, playing and teaching aren’t my only jobs. I’m also Summerglen’s marketing department, accountant, creative director, research and development department, and customer service specialist! I have to get the word out about what we do, keep everything organized, and continue expanding my skills as a trombonist and teacher as well. If I let it, my “fun” job can stress me out just as badly as any office gig–and can pull me out of whack where it really matters, my music.
But there are a couple things that can change my mindset from stressed to relaxed very quickly–being mindful of what I’m doing, and finding things to be thankful for. When I pay close attention in my recordkeeping, I make fewer careless mistakes, and the repetition of the task becomes soothing. Then when I try to be thankful as well, typing in checks and mileage is no longer a chore but a celebration–like Woohoo! I have so many gigs to type in! Responsibilities become the result of something good that has been given to me, and that makes those responsibilities quite fun to have. It makes being busy joyful instead of stressful.
Being mindful also helps me stay creative and mentally uncluttered. Yesterday I was walking home and I practiced listening carefully to the sounds of nature and looking at the details as I walked down the street. Noticing what was going on around me made me feel connected and gave me a burst of new ideas, and made the walk special as well. I wasn’t just leaving Point A thinking about what I needed to do once I got to Point B–it was a journey. (And on the journey I saw a flock of Canadian geese and a lizard. Cool!)
As musicians, we specialize in subtle nuances, in sound, in teaching, and in performance. So, in noticing and appreciating the tiny shades of life, we can become better musicians almost effortlessly!