“Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” Hedy Lamarr
Being a musician, any type of a musician, is hard work. Practicing every day, rehearsing with others, listening to other performers, studying scores, and doing research about the music being practiced, rehearsed, and listened to IS work. Most of us continue with lessons or at very least, conferences or master classes, to keep our skills and knowledge current. To those on the outside, it looks like we’re having fun (most of the time, we are but it’s still WORK) instead of doing what we must for our jobs. A ChoralNetter has reached out to me in frustration. Here is her story.
Jacquie* wants her non-musician friends to know her life is not especially glamorous or spontaneous. And has tried to tell them, she really has. They think she gets out of bed when she feels like it, stays out late, plays the piano and sings all day long and listens to music. And they believe she works a few days a week, gets paid a fabulous salary and wears cool looking clothes. Of course, we know better.
Jacquie’s main gig is as an accompanist for several choral organizations as well as being chief accompanist for several theater groups (both professional and amateur) and has two regular vocal coaching students. She practices material for all those things almost every day. When she’s not practicing, she might be listening to recordings of any of the pieces she is not familiar with just to get the style and flavor, so she is able to hit the ground running.
She gets out of bed later than her friends because her work schedule is not 9 to 5 like theirs is. They may stay out until midnight on Friday or Saturday for pleasure and can sleep in without anyone making them feel guilty, but she stays out on weeknights for her job. If she’s had a late rehearsal the night before, it might seem lazy or a luxury to get up at 8 or 9 am but, if she’s gotten home after midnight and doesn’t go to bed immediately, it’s really not.
Jacquie makes a decent living and freelances when her regular accompanying gigs are on hiatus. She has savings but would not classify herself as rich by any means. One summer, she played on a cruise ship and made wonderful tips, having fun in exotic places but would never do it again because of several drunk passengers.
There have been weeks when she only has two rehearsals and there have been weeks when she rehearses every weekday, plus Saturday and Sunday. There are times when the theater groups have shows going on at approximately the same time and she might have TWO rehearsals every weeknight. She does her darndest to not let that happen by keeping her theater supervisors abreast of what is happening with the other groups. They depend on her and try to schedule shows around her but there have been conflicts. With the Pandemic, things were spotty but now are finally approaching normal and once again she’s quite busy.
Her best friend is upset with her because of her choral jobs. Jacquie tells me she has two re-scheduled (due to the Pandemic) concerts that now conflict with her friend’s wedding. Her friend doesn’t understand why it’s such a big deal for her to ask for that weekend off. Other people ask for time off from their jobs, so why can’t Jacquie?
What would you say to Jacquie to tell her friend?