Friday, April 26, 2013

Compartmentalization vs. Multi-Tasking/Day Job vs. Moonlighting

Several of you have inquired about how my new position at Curtis has impacted my performing career. 

I’m still preparing, practicing, and performing; the Bethlehem Bach Festival starts next week. 

But the schedule is different than before. Even though each career could demand all of my time and focus right now, it's not possible.

I previously wrote, “My [Curtis] job is about as 9 to 5 as it gets in the arts.” In times of intense concert or audition preparation, I would go home right at 5 and practice from 6 until midnight.   

I used to be entirely compartmentalized: When I left the office, I would put the blinders on, forget about it, become a different person, and focus entirely on my music.

Now I am working a lot of nights for concerts and donor events that sometimes last until midnight. I also have a lot more work and responsibility in general, which means a 9 to 5 day is impossible.

So my schedule and working style have had to change. Here are some examples:
  • If I have a function at night, sometimes I practice the oboe in the morning and go into the office later -- 9:30, 10, or even noon.  
  • There have been a few instances in recent weeks where I’ve practiced between the hours of 5-7: after the “work day” is over, and before an event.  
  • Sometimes I leave at 5, go home and practice until 10 or 11, and then pick back up with Curtis stuff until midnight or 1 AM. I can send emails, do research, and write 24/7; my neighbors would not like it if I was practicing the oboe at 2 AM. I am also a night owl and would much rather be working at 1 AM, not 9 AM. 
  • I still compartmentalize. Earlier this week, that meant closing my office door for two hours and writing a proposal to a major funder. Last night it meant not opening Outlook, sitting down, and having a marathon practice session.  
  • But now, multi-tasking is necessary to keep up with both careers. Sometimes I will leave my email open and take “practice breaks” to do something for Curtis. I listen to music I’m preparing when I’m in the office.
As I’ve said before about gigs, “As long as you can do what you need to do at the job, that's what really matters.” It doesn’t matter how many hours you practiced, if you have 2 reeds or 20 reeds, or if you can play the entire Strauss Concerto from memory if the job is to play fourth oboe on a run-through of the last movement of Mahler 1.

I now apply this sentiment to my life at Curtis. When you’re working all of the time, you’re not punching a clock. Nearly every person I’ve interviewed has some kind of flexibility in one or both of their careers. Jacob Smith even said it’s in the “DNA” of PCMS/Marlboro. As long as the work gets done, I do not need to be in my office from 9 to 5. I am fortunate to be one of many musicians who work at Curtis, and the school values that part of my life and what it brings to my work there. 

POSTSCRIPT: I was writing this post late last night and this morning when I woke up, interviewee Shannon Langman posted this article by Penelope Trunk called "Splice Time in New Ways to Have More of it." Talk about timing!

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