Spare time

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Spare time

Post by Kneesks »

(Hoping this isn't deemed too personal or irrelevant)

Assuming alot of people here are active performers, how ofter do you go over a week without a gig or event? And for longer periods, what do you do in that time that allows you to stay stable money wise?

I'm wonder about the sustainability of my music goal. I want to be a teacher, but still do gigs and performances. And in the situation teaching doesn't work and I go more towards gigs, how would I continue to make money or be involved musically in a lacking environment.
Last edited by Kneesks on Mon Jan 16, 2023 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Doug Elliott
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Re: Spare time

Post by Doug Elliott »

Pretty much all freelancers in any profession have that same issue. I've always done a wide variety of things - classical gigs, jazz gigs, teaching, arranging, I was a mechanic for a while working on cars, some people drive for Uber... Instrument repair shops sometimes need helpers/apprentices.
Actors have it worse.
Find something else you like doing and are good at, to fill in the gaps. Take a vacation when there's no work - but you do have to save and plan for that. And always be willing to change your plans instantly when a gig comes in or falls through.
But mostly you have to be good at whatever you do, so people will hire you.
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Re: Spare time

Post by Burgerbob »

Take those times, practice, improve your craft, play chamber music with friends, and wait for the next call. If it gets really tough... time for a day job to cover those gaps.
Aidan Ritchie, LA area player and teacher
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Re: Spare time

Post by LeTromboniste »

That spare time can be both a curse and a blessing. Yes, it's downtime with no income, but it can also at times be a rare and valuable commodity. There seems like there can never be enough time to stay on top of everything you want or need to do (between practicing towards learning new skills, preparing musically for the next projects, admin work, organising your own projects, grant applications, etc etc).
Maximilien Brisson
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Re: Spare time

Post by BGuttman »

Burgerbob wrote: Mon Jan 16, 2023 10:53 pm Take those times, practice, improve your craft, play chamber music with friends, and wait for the next call. If it gets really tough... time for a day job to cover those gaps.
If you are running hand-to-mouth for finances, you need to do something to keep the wolf from the door. Most pros have studios giving lessons. You can make a pretty steady income from a modest number of students in half hour to one hour slugs. Especially school students.

Working in other areas of music can be entertaining. I know one sax player who ran a music store (I gigged with him pretty regularly). I know folks who became instrument techs, arrangers, composers, etc.

Outside of music, it seems I now a lot of musicians who are also computer experts; especially in software engineering and coding, but a lot of that work seems to be headed to India where they are also talented in that area and work cheap.

If the gigs can provide enough cash that you aren't strapped, or you have a significant other with a well-paid job you can just sit back and hone your skills as Burgerbob suggests.
Bruce Guttman
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Re: Spare time

Post by GGJazz »

Hello all.

In addition to all the good answers above , to me one of the best things to do , if you are a free-lance musician , is to teach.

I do not mean about private lessons ; you have to aim to be hired by some School of Music .
More , you do not have to be able to teach only trombone class , but also theory , ear-training , harmony , ensemble class ( writing charts depending on the instruments' availabity) . In this way , you will result more competitive , in the teaching area .

Of course , teaching is the same as playing : you have to be good at it , if you want people call you for the work .

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Re: Spare time

Post by MTbassbone »

****I am not a professional musician****Please take my thoughts with a grain of fleur de sel****

Don't wait for the phone to ring. Create your own opportunities. Play duets, trios, quartets, etc with friends. Practice does not always need to be by yourself. Plus you will have a group of people to call on if you get a gig for that group. Theorize new ways to solve common technique or music problems. Keep your gear in tip top shape, this includes your attire, and all accessories.
Doug Elliott wrote: Mon Jan 16, 2023 10:30 pm Find something else you like doing and are good at, to fill in the gaps.
I agree with Doug. Take the opportunity to seek out other activities, exercise (I'm a hypocrite), or teach yourself a new skill. This is particularly important if it can make a little money. This doesn't need to cost money. Public libraries often have free classes to teach computer skills, and in my hometown the county offered free conservation courses to aid local gardeners. Learning to code HTML or use a program like SketchUp are relatively approachable skills. I am sure has plenty of DIY crash courses on the topics. Learn to cook your favorite foods and/or meal prep for days that are busy. Another option is to volunteer with an organization. I have a colleague who volunteered at a public wildflower garden and they found it to be very fulfilling and restorative even for a just a few hours a week. It can be a non-music resume builder, and plus you never know who you might meet.
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Re: Spare time

Post by baBposaune »

The bulk of years I earned money playing music I also filled up my off time by doing chores around the house, keeping up with the grocery shopping, laundry, practicing, being at home in the afternoon when my son would get home from school, preparing the meals, sometimes ahead of time since my wife had a 8-5 job and I'd have jobs at night.

Now that my son is a married adult and my wife is retired from the 8-5 life I'm still doing DIY projects around the house not only to keep busy but it saves a ton of money not to hire someone when I have a decent "handy factor." I also do some one on one lessons in my home, invite musicians over for duets, trios and quartets, mostly for fun and sometimes for preparing for a gig. I practice daily and buy and sell horns to repair and use or sell if I accumulate "too many" which is a moving target. I did some brass and woodwind repair in shops for over 25 years and still keep my hand in but usually for friends or people referred by friends as I like my flexible schedule.

When I was busiest as a player, having a daily routine kept my sanity and helped keep the bills paid. Learning to do things around the house and taking care of laundry and cleaning house in between practice sessions let me rest my chops and kept my wife happy because she never had to give up her weekends (or weeknights for that matter) to do housework.

Regardless of how you fill time between playing jobs the best advice I got from the conductor of a large choral group I frequently played bass trombone with was, "Stay busy." My son who is a bass player used to work at an amplifier repair shop answering phones and dealing with the flow of work coming in and being picked up. He was also a part-time bartender at brewpubs. He even worked from home scheduling service calls for an electrician with just a smartphone. Point is, there are plenty of ways to stay busy and make some income and still be ready when the music work comes your way. Find the thing or variety of things that work for you.

Matt Varho
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