Now I find myself on the other side again, looking for work instead of working. It’s been a really frustrating time these past 22 months. It’s time to find a great job that can last for at least several years, and perhaps even for 10. One can’t hope for much more that that these days.
Being back to full employment is great, but reminds me of how much you have to grasp the little blocks of personal time available to get things done that are important to me. After accompanying a full-length violin recital, including mostly new music that I had to learn and then rehearse, I committed to the very small job of playing a single piece at a local American Guild of Organists event. It’s not a huge time commitment, but like anything else, it competes with other “must do” things on the weekend. Fun things like cleaning, cooking, and laundry!
I think I’m a lot better with deciding how to say Yes or No, but it’s still a balancing act. Still, I’d rather balance having too much to do, since having not enough to do gets old really quickly!
I joined the Northwest Arkansas Music Teachers Association, even though I do not yet have any piano students. I was invited by a colleague from the American Guild of Organists to join, based upon my desire to get back into piano teaching. It’s something I always wanted to do again, especially as I contemplate ten years down the line, when I’d like to do more music work as part of an early retirement plan.
My first activity as part of this group was to see how their Sonata/Sonatina Celebration was organized, and that included listening to a group of the students in action. The last time I was involved with a juried event of any type was many years ago, when I served as a judge for a piano competition in Danbury, Connecticut, and when I was a member of the faculty of a community music school in Rockland County, New York. It’s really amazing how such an event focuses the students, since they have to play memorized pieces for the judges, and with a sizable audience to boot.
It was really interesting to hear the students, and to know that nothing much has changed in the art of piano playing. The students I heard performed well, though it was interesting to hear some of the same playing issues I faced as a student, and later encountered from the other side as a teacher. In particular, I always found it difficult to play without music, especially when composers wrote episodic passages that cadenced one way in the exposition, and differently in the recapitulation. If you went the wrong way at the wrong time, you got yourself into a lot of trouble!
One thing that I found really interesting was how almost all of the pieces were from the early classical period, or were written by contemporary composers in that style. I won’t lie: It was really refreshing on the occasion that I got to hear a student play a composition from a different period! Another general observation was how some students made the transition to playing for the large room, whereas others seemed to be still playing for themselves at home. I faced the same issue when I was at conservatory, and I finally figured it out one day while at a summer music festival. One of the faculty was playing Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto in a large studio with piano accompaniment, in preparation for playing it with the orchestra at the festival. The pianist’s sound was so huge for that room! However, at the concert on the big stage, it was just right!
I wish I could have stayed longer, since as the judge in my room said, “my favorite thing is to listen to people play the piano.”
As I continue my search for a new career opportunity, I am struck by some of the wisdom of the outplacement help that I received. One online class spoke of the differences in generation, within the four categorizations:
* Baby Boomer
* Gen X
* Millenial (Gen Y)
As a mature “Gen X”, which means I was born just after the end of the Baby Boom, I am struck by my tendencies. I LOVE email, I’m comfortable on the phone, use IM when appropriate at work, but rarely text in my personal life. That seems to me to be the perfect solution. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees!
I’m in the middle of the technology curve, between some Traditionalists who want nothing to do with a computer, and some Millenials who answer nothing but a text. Though there are obviously some in both groups for whom email works fine, one needs to get the job done, or the response required. Whether that’s picking up the telephone, sending an IM or text, or shock of shocks, making an in-person visit, I need to be flexible!
Sometimes there are surprises. Twitter can be a great tool for getting quick customer service, especially in the travel industry. Google Voice is great for saving on long distance, and doubles if you ever have to send a text. Facebook and Twitter an be a great way to score discounts that aren’t available through more traditional means.
So, while I remain flexible, what was that email I forgot to write?!
At this point, I have created or managed WordPress.com sites to help out in one of my non-profit roles, where I can be of service to others. These include a concert series at my church, a bare bones even page for the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists, as well as the property owner’s association where I live and was elected president. Note to self: Being president isn’t all it was cracked up to be!
So I think it’s time to create a site for myself, including my career as a business analyst, my Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings as a church musician, and what I do for fun.