We all have personal, social, and professional lives. Sometimes they overlap (especially in music). Difficulties in one can lead to difficulties in another just because one suddenly needs more time. When that happens, take the time that you need. If you’re going through a breakup, figure out what you need to do for that (maybe it’s to keep yourself busy with your projects). Whatever you do, handle it straight on. Be honest with yourself. If that grant rejection hurt, acknowledge that. Make adjustments. Learn from what has happened. Push yourself but stay mentally and physically healthy. Music is too hard a business to put yourself at a disadvantage by ignoring the fires of life that inevitably pop up.
Music is collaborative by nature. Typically, there is more than one musician. A composer. An audience. Without these, we can make sounds but we really can’t make music. So, don’t think you can do it alone. Invite others to join you.
Advice can be helpful. We can learn lessons from other people without having to go through the same difficulties. Sometimes, though, we end up in a cycle of asking how to do something or whether to do something. We want to get it right--after all, most of classical music training is about doing things correctly. After a while, though, you’re just wasting your time and letting the fear of failure get in your way...do something. Succeed. Or fail. At least you’ll be closer to your goal.
What do you really love? What causes that feeling in your stomach when you can’t really explain why you love something so much? Maybe you love Chopin’s nocturnes or perhaps Sibelius’ tone poems. Or you might love the feeling you get when a group sits down together or the first time a commissioned work comes off the page with real musicians.
That feeling is special and tells us a lot about ourselves--and provides a reason to keep going. If you find that you never truly love any aspect of music or working with others, then you should explore why that is. Are you too afraid to feel something or should you do something else with your life? The deepest part of yourself is trying to communicate with you through music. You should listen.
Music forces us to look inward. When we hear something, images and thoughts spontaneously arise. When we let ourselves go and allow the music to take us on a journey, we can learn about the deepest parts of ourselves. As founders, our responsibility is to create opportunities for audiences to experience these self-revelations. Our projects can be more than mere entertainment, a way to pass the time. Maybe we don’t get it right...or maybe some people don’t like it. The important part is that we have the intention to do more, to create something bigger than ourselves. What is your intention?
What are you committed to? What is it that you’re willing to sacrifice everything else for? What is the priority? Knowing what you’re committed to helps. It means you’re not committed to other things, which helps make decisions easier. If there’s a conflict, you go with the commitment that you already decided ahead of time. It’s not even personal at that point. If you’re not willing to give up other things for it, then you’re not committed.
Maybe it’s a value or a project or a person or an ideal. Maybe it’s a few things...maybe it’s one. That’s up to you. FOMO can creep in. But you already know you’re missing out on something else--because you’re giving that up for your commitment. So, choose to miss out on other things for something that is vital to you.
Have you tried looking for an audience somewhere you haven’t looked yet? You might be surprised what you find--by people who have been waiting for an ensemble just like yours. Maybe they’re people you’ve assumed wouldn’t enjoy it. Ask them anyway. Let them tell you “no”--don’t speak for them. Invitations also start conversations. Maybe they do say “no.” Why? What are they looking for? It all starts with an email or a conversation.
If you’ve tried something several times before (and it hasn’t worked), you should either: 1) do something different, perhaps drastically so. 2) Fully commit to it--quit trying to do something and do it. One doesn’t “try” swimming...either you do it or you don’t. Committing may also force you to push through the difficulty and find a solution when, at first glance, it didn’t look like there was one.
You have an idea for a project, but you don’t know what to do. You’ve talked with some friends and have done some research online. But you’re not sure. Where do you start?
Try sending an email to yourself, or your mom or dad, or your sibling. Explain your goals--what does the project look like? Who is it for? What does it need? Who are the important people? Why should anyone care?
Most projects need straightforward things (a place and people)--and the answers might be more straightforward than you think.
Bad situations are ripe for lessons. Maybe we learn to avoid doing something. Maybe we see how something well-intentioned didn’t work. Maybe we notice that small changes would lead to dramatically different outcomes. Regardless, we learn--and we can continue to learn. Why waste the opportunity of a perfectly good bad situation?