Welcome to Your Experimental Year

Well, here we are! Another Labor Day.


Whether your school year started in August, or will in the coming days, Labor Day Weekend always signifies the official end of summer and the beginning of fall. 


Last year, though….it all kind of blurred together, didn’t it? September 2020 we were still locked down, everything was closed, most schools were online or hybrid, and the vaccines were nowhere in sight. We STILL hadn’t seen our family members, STILL hadn’t seen close friends, and STILL had no concerts to play. 


This year just feels odd. Most of us (at least, most of my readers) are vaccinated (hooray!) but know that we can still contract and spread COVID (yikes!) We’ve gotten used to going about our days and lives with masks on, but enjoy spending “normal” time with our vaccinated friends outside, at the beach, BBQs, etc. 


Some concerts are starting to happen. The Met Orchestra did Mahler 2 in a park in NYC the other night, and the LA Phil, Boston Symphony, and others had their summer seasons. If not totally “as before”, at least they happened. 


Yet, a lot of smaller orchestras, many of which freelancers have depended upon for much of their work have been slow to announce seasons. Contractors aren’t hiring subs until the very last minute so as not to be held responsible for payment if they have to cancel. 


But the truth is, while last year we all firmly felt that we were deep in sourdough starter mode, this year feels like we are on deck waiting for the emails to start creeping back in.



The concert black and the beautiful gowns are being dusted off, and where the back-to-school conversations a year ago were “online? or in-person?”, this year, the in-person is assumed, and it’s “masks or no masks”  (MASKS, PLEASE!!!)


Something has shifted in each of us, though. There isn’t a person among us who hasn’t done some deep and serious soul-searching over the past year and a half. About what you want, about what you DON’T want, what (and who!) is important to you, and all of the surrounding logistics. 


There’s just something about organizing a sock drawer to encourage deep philosophical questions. 


I’ve spoken to many soloists who dread having to spend so much time on the road again, who got to know the joy of a weekend BBQ with friends, and now have to go back to “sorry, I’ll be out of town that day” 


Freelancers who realized that driving for HOURS to play a mediocre and low-paying gig simply because they were afraid of not being asked again, was not worth missing 6 nights of dinners and bedtimes with their family. 


Teachers who realized that teaching 60 hours a week–all miraculously squeezed into after-school and weekend hours — was bringing them nothing but exhaustion, sore backs, and resentment.



These are the negative arguments, of course. And I don’t mean to imply that we were all full of doom and gloom because, in spite of all of the heartache that this virus has caused, most of these realizations above were brought on by new, positive things that you discovered. Saturday morning pancakes with your teenagers, regular Sunday dinner with your parents, 6 pm Zoom happy hour with your friends. 


And while we all heard (and possibly uttered ourselves) the phrase “Never again will I…” or “I’m done with…” The 2-hour commute to a mediocre gig that pays crap can suddenly sound pretty enticing when it involves a favorite piece, or a soloist you’ve always admired, or a room full of friends you have missed seeing.


And that’s okay. 



The next 6-12 months are going to be a time for experimentation for a lot of folks. For some, who decided to carve out a new career, how will it feel in real time as you watch your former colleagues head back into the concert halls? 


For everyone who said they’d “never…”, well, you might. You might not. Our Pandemic Selves and our Pre-pandemic selves are inevitably going to have a few debates over things. The joy of slowing down vs. the adrenaline of going 5 weeks without a day off. Quality time at home vs. the musically satisfying performance opportunity. 



I imagine that some of us will just go back to how things were before. Some will change gears completely, and many of us will be somewhere in between. Perhaps saying no to things that don’t truly serve us, and courageously going after things we’ve always wanted. Because in case you hadn’t heard: 


Life is short. Life is precious. We only have one shot at this. D) All of the Above.


Maybe this Labor Day Holiday is a good day to truly focus on our Labor. If you could design it exactly the way you want, what would this year look like for you? What concerts would you play? Which concerts would you NOT play? Who would you teach? How much would you teach? Where would you teach? How much free time do you want, and when do you want it? 


And, if you feel comfortable, would you share with us something that you would like to do differently this year? Either an addition or subtraction. What are you excited about? 

Have a wonderful week!




Curious about what it would be like to work with me as a coach to help you get a dream project off the ground? Book a (free) 30-minute ‘Discovery’ call with me to talk about you, your goals, and your ideas today. 


P.S. 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

In the meantime, join my Tales From The Lane Facebook Community for more bonus material, live discussions, and tons of free content and insider info. 

2 Comments on “Welcome to Your Experimental Year

  1. Yes, full stop. The summer concert season has ended and I find that being in large crowds both frightens and annoys me. Backing down to one band for the fall.

  2. Pingback: It’s Time to Kon-Mari Our Careers – Tales From The Lane

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