It takes a lot of work just to do a small concert or tour. When you think you’ve done everything you can do to reach an audience, you’ve probably only just scratched the surface. Asking other people--your audience, your musicians, your friends-- can help push you in directions you didn’t previously realize were possible. Because of your own background and habits of thinking, you didn’t see them. Once you do see them, you can be reminded of how much is still out there. Keep looking.
As we study music, we study ourselves. Music is really just sounds, or during study, just notes on the page. Yet music is never merely sounds nor merely notes. It speaks to us. It moves us. It takes us on a journey. Where we go says as much about us as it does about the music.
Composers write symphonies and other beautiful music out of notes. They make a decision and they write a note. For those of us in the founding community, we write symphonies with people--with the relationships between audience members, arts support staff, and performers. We must engage each note--we can’t make them do anything. Through crafting a vision and working to build relationships and getting people on your side, however, the people-notes will work towards your vision. One great thing about people--and notes never will be able to do: people bring their own initiative and creativity to the ensemble and the work. People take the work and run with it. The most beautiful symphony we can write is one where the notes take it and make it their own, turning it into something more beautiful than you could have ever envisioned.
Sometimes you don’t know. You don’t know how to do it. You don’t know what to do. You have a few options: 1) take a wild stab at something 2) ask someone who does know 3) do some research so that you start to know or 4) do nothing. The last option goes nowhere. With the others, mistakes pave the way to a better understanding.
You will never be good enough for someone. Your overbearing mother, that snippy colleague, your teacher with students much better than you, maybe even yourself. At the same time, you will always be good enough for someone or for some group of people. They want what you’re working on. They support you. They want you to succeed. Work for them.
It’s simply impossible to do everything that you want to do. We have to make choices, decide on what is essential and what can wait for a rainy day. We can either deliberately choose those things or we can let our subconscious and the rest of the world make the decision for us. We just never seem to get around to that thing that’s really important. If you’re going to avoid something, consciously decide to avoid it. If you’re going to do something, make the decision to do it. Be the kind of person who mindfully and carefully selects what to do with the limited time and cognitive room we have. That important thing that you never get around to doing is probably really important.
It’s easy to underestimate the time it takes to do something. Booking hotel rooms should be easy. What’s your budget? Where? This hotel is closer to the venue but further from the airport (and the plane that lands at midnight). Eventually, you have to book a hotel room--but it might take a while to get there. Leave yourself time to make good decisions, especially for logistics and marketing.
Does your project not seem real to you? Try doing something tangible to move it forward. Planning, making spreadsheets, budgeting, building a website are vital steps, but they also don’t create something you can touch. Contact the venue or the musicians. Put money down--or do something that puts you on the hook. You’ll feel the responsibility--and the corresponding sense of realness.
Sometimes, you just have to move on from a project. It’s not working for some reason. There’s no sense in spending more time and money on something just because you’ve already spent time and money (the sunk cost fallacy). Maybe you were desperate to make it work--it’s your passion project. Think about why it’s not working. If you can find a way to move it forward, great. If you can’t, set it aside--at least for now. We can always return to our old projects with a fresh mind.
If you could do anything, what would it be? Would it be the same thing that you’re doing now? We might not be able to do what we want to the same degree if we had a ton of money or time. But we can do what we want to a lesser degree--proportional to the amount of time and money we do have. Why wait to start doing what you want?