Somebody asked me recently if I taught or if I performed. I answered that I do about half of each. That’s really my goal right now. I love teaching and I love performing, and for the past few years that balance has been reflected, both in my schedule and in my tax returns.
It’s funny. I think most people struggle to achieve balance between their career and home life. I am struggling to achieve balance in my career. My home life has always been the time left over, and sometimes that balance is very much off (especially once you include practicing and lesson planning). But that’s a story for another day!
When my work goes out of balance, I feel it. For instance, there were many times last year when I was doing hardly any teaching. I would talk to teaching colleagues who were full of stories about their students, and I felt left out, and frankly, sad. I had just left about 20 students in Cleveland, and missed seeing them every week. Lately I have been fortunate enough to have several new students (10 private, plus two small classes), and the teaching aspect of my life is feeling very much in balance. Or has it? Am I devoting too much of my recent time to teaching?
Last week I played with my orchestra in Columbus, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra for the first time this semester. As we started rehearsing, I realized I had missed playing in orchestra. I used to play a concert almost every week until I moved to St. Louis, and now I only play occasionally. I do play many weddings and receptions, but its not the same feeling as orchestral playing. My orchestral balance has been off. Perhaps I need to make sure that at least half of my performing is through orchestra…so that would be at least 25 percent of my total work time. Balance is a tricky thing, and the orchestral opportunities here (unless you are a symphony member) are few and far between.
I am a substitute player with the Columbus Symphony, but so far this fall I haven’t been able to play any of their concerts. I love playing with the group, but it’s a trek from here to there, and it means canceling/missing everything I am doing here. Between teaching, my pedagogy class, weddings, and other commitments in town, I just can’t make a trip out of town at this point (other than my already scheduled ProMusica concerts, of course). I’m hoping in the spring that might be more possible. Perhaps other orchestral opportunities closer to home will appear!
On a similar note, I recently was appointed Concertmaster of New Opera St. Louis (Winter Opera St. Louis) and I look forward to the season beginning in November. It’s a very small orchestra, but I relish the thought that even in this economy, new arts groups can survive, and hopefully thrive and grow.