I came across a post the other day on social media. It was from a musician who is doing some side coaching in the health and wellness sphere. They seemed nice enough.
This post was about musicians who work with other musicians as business/career coaches (hey! That’s me!) so I was curious to read what they had to say.
Well, let’s just say they’re not impressed. Their main argument seemed to stem from the idea that no one knows what the hell the classical music industry is going to look like when this is all over, so how can we possibly charge our colleagues money to tell them what they should be doing?
I appreciate that they are trying to be of service to their audience. They’re trying to save them time and money and give them the advice they really need to hear. In other words, I think their heart is in the right place.
Career coaching is no longer about a specific list of tasks to be completed (write a great bio! Tweak your resume! Go to XY and Z conferences and network!) but more about teaching clients how to adapt to a changing landscape while staying in alignment with their goals and values.
They think we’re handing out instruction manuals on how to build a canoe during tsunami season. But what we’re really doing is giving people training in general boat-building, swimming, weather-forecasting, and aviation all at once, so that they are better prepared to see things coming and adapt to whatever happens.
While my coach certainly armed me with fantastic business tools and actionable skills, the most important lessons I learned from her were more universal. How to look at what is happening, see what could be possible, and how to create something new within that. Gatekeepers be damned!
The other thing that saddened me about this post was the idea that musicians should just hunker down and wait until the dust settles, figure out how things are, and then act accordingly. I believe we can do better than that. I believe we can be part of the “figuring out” process. By creating our own programs, projects and space, we are, essentially, the ones deciding what the industry will look like on the other side of this. Not the other way around.
It’s our job as creators to communicate with others. To find out what they want. What they need, and then we can create something new and interesting within that framework.
The ability to adapt will look different to each person. For some, it meant selling beauty products through an MLM company to create a much-needed sense of community and additional income to pay the bills. For others, it meant dreaming up small-scale (but artistically epic) opera productions on timely topics, with underrepresented composers, and presenting them as a ticketed Livestream, or repeat performances for a small audience. And 1001 different ideas in between.
But the important lesson this year is this: As musicians, we need to be able to adapt. The sense of complacency many of us felt pre-pandemic kept us stalled in “the same old same old” for too many years. Even those of us who were happy doing what we were doing realized that we could improve upon them even more, continue to learn new skills, and work harder to keep things fresh.
I think it has been a valuable gift to a group of people who have been doing the same daily warm up for decades!
The gift of adaptability. Looking at things with a fresh perspective. Asking ourselves how something good could be even better, and then asking ourselves how WE could make it better.
The next one might look different. But that’s okay.
Cheers to us!
Do you like free stuff? Because I created two helpful (I hope!) pdfs as a thank you for being a part of this community.
This one is for all the teachers out there: 30 Things you can offer your online music students
And this one is for anyone looking for just a bit more motivation. It’s my 5 Strategies to Boost Motivation
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