On Loving a Musician


Are you in love with a musician? Perhaps even considering moving in together and sharing a life? Congratulations! You have made an excellent choice. Before you commit, however, there's a couple of things you should know:

  1. Musicians differ somewhat from a normal person. Living with them you'll notice they keep very different hours - not exactly your nine to five schedule. Most of the work happens in the evenings, so if you're hoping to have nice harmonious breakfasts together at seven, dream on. Your musician will be fast asleep at that point, and the most you'll get out of them early in the morning is a kick in the face for having tried to wake them up. In the evening they come home late, very hungry. You should always have some food ready, or at least a snack and a glass of wine. This is a safety measure you'll learn not to laugh at as the years go by.
  2. After teaching it is impossible to smile and have a polite conversation. Do not be alarmed if your musician comes home grumpy and silent - it doesn't mean they hate their job. Teaching is very energy-consuming business, and it's quite normal not to be able to sparkle immediately after. The batteries need to be recharged before a normal level of communication can be achieved. (The aforementioned wine may speed up the process.)
  3. The amount of work varies a lot, and the mood swings accordingly. One week your musician will be super busy, full of enthusiasm and excitement - and then there'll be days of Netflix, pure procrastination, and sighing over a career that has "passed them by". On the latter occasions you can try to be supportive, but your musician probably won't respond that well to phrases like "honey, if you actually practiced or tried to contact someone instead of watching Orange is the New Black and eating only cheese, things might improve". There will come a time when you'll be wise enough to save your breath and, seeing the first signs of a Netflix coma, go stay with friends for a week or book a hiking holiday just for yourself. A good relationship needs distance, you've heard.
  4. Before concerts your musician can turn into different kinds of weird. Sulky, angry, weepy, deeply concentrated and quiet, overly cheerful and loud, obsessed with their hair... Again, the best advice you can get is to ignore them and remember that the concerts pay their share of the bills.
    Another thing to know about concerts is that you'll need to attend. Your musician might say that you don't have to go, it's not that important, but they don't mean it. You do have to go. After the concert there will be either ecstatic rambling about touching people's souls, or angry muttering about how nobody appreciates art anymore. Agree with everything that's being said and whatever you do, do not try to be reasonable. Reasonable doesn't go well with a post-concert adrenaline rush. 
  5. If you expect your significant other to be mainly making music, practicing and performing, you're so mistaken. Your musician will spend way more time writing stuff - concert advertisements, program notes, emails and texts to students, emails and texts to colleagues, invoices, grant applications, tax return forms, unemployment benefit applications, blogs, biography updates, website updates, and so on. The music is the icing on the cake, and the cake itself is other things.
  6. If your musician is a pianist, they'll spend an equal amount of time attaching sheet music together with scotch tape. (Like this: Put two sheets of music next to each other - put tape up, down, and center - realize the papers aren't in the right order - swear - repeat.) You'll feel sorry for your musician and to help them you'll buy them an ipad for their birthday. They'll use it to play solitaire, keep taping their scores like they've always done, and next year you'll just buy them more scotch tape.
  7. Music is not a sport, you say? Think again. As your musician gets older, the amount of money spent on physiotherapy, massages and the like grows exponentially. Saving for a trip to Thailand? Not in a million years. Saving for a Tempur motor bed? Yep, already opened an account. You think you don't have to worry about these things before your musician is 60+ but you're fooling yourself. The moment a musician hits 30, they start going on and on about the benefits of yoga and ergonomic pillows - and all they'll want for Christmas will be gift cards to chiropractors.
  8. You will not choose a single piece of music for your wedding. That's for sure...
  9. ...but you'll be the one buying the house.