SOUL-KILLING ATTITUDE #1: SOBUSYOMG
September is coming, with all of its promise and terror. Remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll know you have a problem if, in mid-October, someone asks how you’re doing and this is your response.
SOUL-KILLING ATTITUDE #2: MY SCREEN, MYSELF
Most of us carry our email inboxes around in our pockets, which is both a blessing and a curse. Read the research on how addictive, counter-productive, and psychologically damaging the whole “constantly plugged in” thing can be, and make sure The Machines are serving you.
SOUL-KILLING ATTITUDE #3: MY FINANCES ARE FINE
You can’t pretend to be surprised anymore when April comes and you owe the government two months’ rent. And it’s getting a little ridiculous how infrequently you change your strings. Get a savings account and put plenty of money in it so that you can invest in your instrument, your career, and yourself when those moments arise. Ally Bank allows you to create multiple online savings accounts so that you can set aside money for different financial goals (like paying taxes, traveling, or buying an important new piece of gear).
SOUL-KILLING ATTITUDE #4: INSTRUMENT, WHAT INSTRUMENT?
I know. Being a musician sometimes feels like 973 hours of emailing, commuting, teaching, and Sleigh Ride and 2 hours of quality practicing. But your relationship with your instrument (or your compositional process) is a primary relationship, and feeling distant from that often means losing touch with your roots. When you stay grounded in the basics, a lot of great stuff will follow.
SOUL-HEALING ATTITUDE #1: SELF-PRESERVATION
This fall, you must become a fearless practitioner of The Art of Saying No. We both know that time is the most valuable resource you have, and that you never have enough of it. Approach your life and your Google Calendar like a zealous weed-whacking gardener, ruthlessly clearing space for the things that actually matter. Only one morning available for composing this week? Postpone those advice-giving coffee dates. Super busy performing month? Let friends know ahead of time, so you don’t feel guilty turning down their dinner invitations. And if people don’t like it, they can deal with it.
SOUL-HEALING ATTITUDE #2: GRATITUDE
If you’re a performer or composer, chances are you don’t work alone. You probably rely pretty heavily on tolerant quartet-mates, long-suffering stand partners, and miraculously organized artistic staff. Busy working musicians have a bad habit of not expressing appreciation often enough, heartily enough, or—in the case of Frodo and Sam—homoerotically enough. This fall, practice gratitude for the delicate ecosystem of wonderful people who make your career possible.
SOUL-HEALING ATTITUDE #3: JOY
You trained all your life for this stuff, and now you get to do it. The best gig is not at some future time; it’s the one you’re playing right now. So stop complaining and texting during rehearsal and take some joy in what you’re doing. (If there’s absolutely no joy in what you’re doing, see Soul-Healing Attitude #1. You know what to do.)
SOUL-HEALING ATTITUDE #4: CONFIDENCE
Believe in your unique self. Our classical music training sometimes makes us feel like we’re all striving endlessly towards the same unattainable ideal. But the truth is, it’s your quirks and unique gifts that make you an important contributor to our art form. Have you heard of impostor syndrome? The feeling that you’re not good enough, that you’re going to be found out as a fraud any second? It’s a thing that a lot of people—women especially—suffer from. Confidence is the opposite of that. So put on an amazing outfit and fake it ’til you make it.