This last week Physical Therapist Dr. Cody Weisbach of Musician Maintenance put out a question to several prominent musicians and music health advocates asking them.how adversity in a pandemic can improve your career. I encourage you to take a look at the fantastic answers he assembled and thank him for getting me to sit down and commit some thoughts to writing in the process.
My answers unsurprisingly revolve around setting goals and being healthy but I've expanded on some of those thoughts below.
I don't have Netflix.
I haven't had Netflix in over a year now and I have no intention of getting it just because I can't leave my apartment.
I did get an app on my iPad though that lets me read eBooks. I've always been a big library-goer and not having tangible books has admittedly been a bummer for me but there does seem to be smaller wait lists via this technological marvel I'm only a decade late in joining the party for.
It's a small silver lining but, I'm claiming it!
Sure I'm practicing. I'm still teaching some remote lessons (Praise the Father!) and occasionally making some Insta-videos just so people believe I still play the cello and perform comedy. I also run this business and write blogs and a majority of my life is pretty much the way it was before, except a lot lonelier.
And yet getting onto Social Media and streaming services is exhausting me. Even in this time where media is the main way of connecting I am still finding that Social Media does not make me any happier. Neither does binge watching that Everest Docu-Series on Amazon or watching Lego Masters on Hulu. (Yes, I still have some streaming services and will immediately admit that "Making the Cut" on Amazon is giving me life!)
But back to the Social part of media. I get it, we all still play our instruments and we all have more practice time and we all want to be noticed right now for the work we are doing because it has been taken from us indefinitely. I'd be a liar if I didn't say that I've shed a lot of tears over this.
For me though, in this time of isolation, the biggest sense of relief I can find is the choice to intentionally be socially distanced. There is no FOMO. No one's on a gig I can't have, no one's out there intimately connecting with an audience in a way that I'm unable to, no one is making those big tour or session paychecks I'm jealous for.
And that's a blessing. I have time. What a luxury.
The question for musicians right now shouldn't be what do I want or need today to stay noticed and relevant but what do I need or want a month from now to continue my art? What do I need or want three months from now? What do I need or want six months from now?
- A year ago I decided I wanted to rebuild my emergency fund and have an IRA. Today I have both.
- A year ago I moved into my own apartment. Eight months before that I was broke and living in my aunt and uncle's spare bedroom. I decided I wasn't even going to stay there a whole year and I didn't.
- Nine months ago I filed as a small business owner. Two years before that I started creating content, budgets and business models that made my passion a reality.
- Ten years after finishing my undergrad I was accepted into a masters program. Six months prior to that I started putting in the focused work on my instrument with a deliberate goal in mind.
What is your dream for six months from now? The thing that keeps getting pushed aside because you're keeping up with Social Media and the latest show on Netflix and constantly #hustling for today? This was likely your life before COVID-19 shut us down but now, it doesn't have to be!
There's a chance that putting up those YouTube videos is taking you closer to your goal. There's also a chance that once you put it up you spend another hour on and off all day checking it for comments and likes and disrupting any other state of flow. Do you track your time?
There's definitely a chance that practicing or songwriting for a couple hours each day is going to take you closer to your goal of being a better musician when this is all over. I'm still doing this. Some days I post about it because, I believe the world needs some art and beauty in it and that will always be a worthwhile contribution. Some days I just put in the hours, pack up and eat Cadbury Eggs. And some days I only eat Cadbury Eggs.
But what if you used this time to make a plan. Like a real one. Like you sat down and finally made some SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based.) Many of us might have done this at the start of 2020 but now is the time to reassess. Scrap what needs scrapping, rewrite what needs rewriting and dream some new dreams.
Then get that library app on your iPad. Find a book that walks you closer to your goal of where you want to be in six months. Turn off Netflix, mute Social Media, set down your instrument and get dreaming.
You have time. What a luxury.
And if you're like, "Listen lady, I got bills to pay, I have to hustle!" Please check out the blogs with everything you need to know about unemployment for musicians as well as this comprehensive list of all the grants, funds and financial aid available to musicians.