On Things That Never Will Be Music



There are so many emails. Imagine you're trying to arrange concerts, for example. First you have to email the possible venues to ask if they want you. Most don't. Staring at the negative answers you curse the day people stopped appreciating music and wallow in self-pity - and then send more emails. The venues that do want you require a lot more emailing back and forth. Agreeing on the details takes time, typing, and scanning.

Pro tip: If you don't have a printer/scanner at home, find friends who do, and then ruthlessly abuse their patience and machinery.

Texts, Messenger, Whatsapp...

Booking rehearsals. Booking meetings in which to discuss future projects. Booking rehearsals for aforementioned future projects. Endless group chats in which there's always

  1. A person who doesn't use the app in question and has to be informed via smoke signals
  2. Another who never answers anything, except to tell they're unavailable at the exact time everyone else has laboriously managed to agree on
  3. A member who'll post all sorts of unrelated spam that you have to read every time the phone beeps because the one time you didn't it was real news.

You send pictures of outfits to match them to others, you send cvs and biographies, promotional pictures, scores, tax cards, id numbers, bank details, drafts for program notes and grant applications and hundreds of thousands of things that are not and never will be music. You just sit in front of your computer and/or phone and click, click away while your life passes you by and all your creativity slowly withers and dies in the corner. Then the phone rings:


It's a gig! ...not. It is a salesman offering you a magazine subscription, an insurance, or cheaper electricity. Every week someone vomits their sales pitch on your hopes and dreams. You have to answer, because every call from an unknown number is like that lottery ticket you bought in order to win gazillion euros. And who knows? Next time it really could be work.

Pro tip: Always, always when the electricity guy calls gasp in bewilderment: "Electricity? For me? What on earth would I need that for?"


Leaving Facebook is a thing, because Facebook is evil. I'm not disagreeing, but I'm not leaving either. I follow a couple of groups that actively post things about work - people looking for substitutes, links to new job openings and grants to apply for, events looking for music and students looking for teachers. 97% of the posts are not relevant to me, but it's the 3% that I'm interested in. I've actually got work like that, by reacting to a post, so I know it can happen. You just have to spend some time scrolling through stuff including cute animals and your friends' doings. (Okay, things could be worse.)


"What if they google me? They won't, but what if they will?" You have a website because of this. There might be other reasons, but this is the real one. When someone somewhere wants to know who you are, they'll find information you yourself have edited and polished, instead of mildly embarrassing ancient facebook history or random concert posts and articles. It takes time to maintain, however - unless you want people to see only the concerts from before 2014, you've got to keep regularly updating the site. You will not want to do this, but you'll force yourself. You will develop whole new ranges of methods of procrastination during the process.


You should have Instagram because "everyone's there". As a pianist working with singers the important thing is not to let the singers forget you exist, so you should try to post something every once in a while. You're not really into Instagram, you're just using it as a tool. Only when someone confronts you about the relevance of seagulls or food to your work, you notice the machine is now controlling you - you've already been tagged, you've been caught in the net of arbitrary gratification, and not knowing how it happened you find yourself compulsively checking for likes and scrolling through air in your sleep - walking around seeing not objects and events but a continuous stream of hashtags and filters.

Pro tip: Watch out. It's scary business.


A whole new world of more messages. A concert time change? No big deal. Just 22 texts. Then the replies: "What concert? Where? We have a soccer game and jazz ballet and could it be 47,6 minutes later and earlier and at the same time? Maybe on another planet? Could it have subtitles in Sanskrit?" The answers to these questions: 138 more texts. Sick on a Monday? 10 texts. A teachers' meeting? 17 texts. Students playing together with other students? What a lovely idea. 58 texts. Students playing together with other students in a concert? 18.229 texts and possible carpal tunnel syndrome.


Being a freelance person and teacher means you are your own pr manager and secretary, and that is a lot of work. Know it. Accept it. Embrace it.

Pro tip: Rant about it to colleagues. Always helps.