It’s the start of a new season here in Toronto and that means SCHEDULING. One of the toughest parts of self-employment, is not getting handed a pre-made rehearsal scheduling book by one orchestra at the beginning of every season - instead of one book, you get parts of many! And it’s up to you to make it all fit. It’s always mildly heartbreaking when two great performances conflict and you have to choose one over the other (and I can tell you that it rarely comes down to money, it’s usually repertoire, venue and the ease of the rehearsal schedule that decides it for me!) I also try to balance which contractors I say yes to - I like to be as loyal as possible and will prioritize personnel managers who have always been supportive, over new people that I don’t have an established relationship with yet. I also like to keep in the back of my mind, which managers I’ve had to say no to repeatedly - eventually those will stop calling, so it’s important occasionally, to move some stuff around to accommodate people who have been waiting patiently for you!
Added into this delicate balance, is of course one’s personal life and KIDS! Sometimes you are just not able to schedule yourself as heavily as you usually would, because of stuff going on at home, or with your parents, or your in-laws, etc etc - I did wonder, when I became a parent, if I would automatically prioritize my family, or if it would be a struggle and I can say that it’s been fairly simple actually. Not until this year (other than his infant months) did my now-school-aged son have a period where he really REALLY needed me (he’s always been spunky and super independent) and I immediately unscheduled myself in order to give him the extra support he needed. I realized that the other times when I stressed over whether I was away working too much, had less to do with him, and everything to do with my own guilt. My kid was absolutely fine, absolutely happy and well-adjusted. It was me who wasn’t!! Part of this guilt is hard-wired into our brains and part of it is societal pressure. Nevertheless, for those of you with babies, it WILL get better, you are not a horrible parent for wanting to play concerts while you have a baby at home and YES they will forgive you for missing bedtime sometimes!
Anecdote: The other week my son and I were going for a walk and he pointed to a lady locking her house up across the street and asked “where is she going??”. I replied that she was likely going to work as it was 8 am and she was dressed professionally. He then turned to me and said “But I don’t see her instrument!!” #kidsofmusicians