5 things I've learnt since graduating last summer
1. Some people are busy with work, some people aren't, and some people are really good at misleading you on social media..!
Its kinda the same when you're at college - some people are laden with gigs and make sure you know about it. A choral society concert each weekend of the month and something avant garde (which they caaaan't believe they're doing it's just sooooo out there) chucked in for some balance. Don't get me wrong, I'm made up for them. Having a freelance career is always uncertain, and I'm very much on someone's team for making it work out. Perhaps not quite so on board with the constant gig talk, but can we let that one slide #industry. It can be really difficult seeing people working successfully when you're in a quiet patch, and sometimes there's an overwhelming sense of 'this will never happen for me, should I start looking at entry level admin jobs'. I think it's totally normal, and I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't something I deal with and feel in my own career. (other people are lying if they disagree!). But there are some people who do an AMAZINGLY convincing job on social media that they are so busy they barely have time to eat. Again, there is no shade being thrown here. A social media presence can be a really important part of the industry, and the people smashing it are doing an amazing job in a hugely saturated market. I'm just keeping it real- not everything you see is 100% as it might be portrayed. Think weight-loss transformation pictures, and then apply it to a classical musician. You get me?
2. It's ok not to feel motivated
This one is becoming a bit of a mantra for me. That immediately makes you think that playing and practising feels like a chore, right? Which is the reason this point is here. 'Motivation' is seen as a key to success, when actually, discipline is the key to success. How often do you feel motivated to go for a run? If you just ran when you felt like it, would you be fit enough to run a marathon? Definitely not. But if you created habits and discipline around your running, you could be fit enough to run a marathon. (Disclaimer: I am not.) So why is there such a taboo around motivation in the classical music scene!? It's not always realistic to wake up each morning desperate to start your daily warm up, but that is ok. Fit it in and feel chuffed that you did it. Don't fit it in and go for brunch with your friends. Either way, find what works and do that, but expect to have to just get on with it even when you feel uninspired.
3. 90% of the people that graduated with you feel exactly the same as you do right now
'Am I going to make enough money to pay the rent this month?' 'I don't have any gigs in my diary for the next three months, have I failed?' 'Am I going to teach the recorder to primary children until I'm forty?' CAN YOU RELATE? Of course you can. Thats the point, those uncertain moments happen to everyone. There's this unwritten pressure that you leave conservatoire and your freelance career goes boom. For some it does (you go glen coco) but for most of us we have to do the gigs that don't fill our soul with joy, and teach children who spend lessons trying to blow as much spit down the recorder as possible. It's easy to begin to believe that this is the future when all of a sudden someone gets in touch with an offer of a tour or a run of work, or even just a one off, truly excellent offer and everything changes again. So I guess all I'm saying is that everyone is in the same boat, just some people won't tell you about it. Again #keepingitreal
4. Without the hoops to jump, you can fall in love with playing again
This one won't apply to some of you, but for me, the hoop jumping and box ticking exercises of a degree wore a little thin by the end of five years and my playing had become less creative, less personally expressive and felt less authentic. Allowing myself the space and freedom of that #selfemployedlife gave me the chance to rediscover it. It's taken about four months to relax into it again, but now that I have, I feel like i'm playing better and i'm enjoying it more than I have for years. Just try and go through the motions as gently as you can until you feel able to play authentically again, or, as my boyfriend would say, 'just peace out'.
5. It's gonna be OK. (random man say so)
Basically that. Just relax into the process, don't second guess, be determined and disciplined, have a life outside music and be honest with people. (Looking at you social media queens.) You got this.