Gigs: The Fun and the Funny.
Freelance musicians are dependent on gigs for their livelihood. Though it may seem like an easy way to make money, the truth is a bit more complicated. The lovely music you hear at a wedding may be lovely, but it is a tiny part of what goes into performing gigs.
I consider myself very lucky to be a freelance musician. I love my career. It’s exciting to be working for myself and adapting to the wide variety of occasions my services are needed. This week, I played an outdoor wedding, headlined a concert for 250 toddlers, taught music classes, rehearsed and conducted an adult choir, team-taught an arts program with the theme “autumn leaves,” met individually with flute and recorder students, and performed at a birthday party for a dozen two-year-olds. But those are just the performing moments, the ones that everyone knows about and which seem glamorous. There were also hundreds of miles of driving, instrument schlepping (my arms are sore today!), practicing, emails and phone calls, QuickBooks data entry, standing in line at the bank, and paying a big health insurance premium bill. Those things are not so fun.
My friend Emily Packard has a wonderful blog article about her adventures as a gig musician Take a moment to read it. Her writing is terrific and the story is a good one, though I feel very sorry for her poor violin.
Another blog popped into my Facebook feed as I sit here writing this. The Self-Inspired Flutist is another article about the perils of being a performing musician. I laughed out loud when reading about the author’s horrible experience of having her skirt fall off during a recital. Performing without clothes on is every musician’s recurring nightmare and it really happened to Terri Sanchez.
Have you read the book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly? Anthony Boudain’s confessional is filled with hilarious, disgusting, unbelievable moments from his career as a chef.
I’ve often thought that we musicians should write something like that too. My husband is a piano technician and he loves to share war stories with fellow technicians about mice nests in pianos and colorful clients. A piano technician friend works for the Pentagon and tells entertaining stories about working in the D.C. area.
I have my share of war stories too. There was the time I nearly fainted while playing in the hot summer sun on stage with a furry shark. Or maybe you would like to hear about the funeral gig that included discreetly eating my own snot while playing the flute. But I think I’ll save those stories for my book Musician Confidential.