Between Boredom and Busy

 

I was chatting on the phone with my mother yesterday, telling her about the various things I was working on: my students, clients, the festival, etc. I was explaining that February and March had a lot going on in them and that perhaps April or May might be a better time for her to come and visit.

Gosh, she said.  Sounds like you’re really busy!

Well, no. Not really. And the point is that I don’t want to push myself over to “Busy”.

Busy is the new Smoking. It’s both unhealthy and unseemly.

It seems there are only two ways to be these days. You’re either stuck at home with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no one to see, or you’re running around like a crazy person, balancing work with homeschooling, a video project here, a side business there. So busy that you can barely breathe.

Whatever happened to the in-between?

 

 

If there is one thing I have learned from my life-long training as a) a freelance musician and b) a business owner, it’s how much I actually CAN fit into one day (I know I’m not the only musician here who has fit in a quick luncheon gig between an orchestra double.) I’ve also learned what my limits are.

I know that if I push too hard M-Thursday, then Friday afternoon (just when I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel) will find me on the sofa with a raging migraine.

And I’ve learned that if I fill my schedule from top to bottom each day, leaving zero “white space” then I will start to feel blocked. I won’t have any ideas for blog posts, social media, new projects.

The creative well needs filling and it wants to be filled with time. 

One of the main reasons I left my Always Busy Non-Stop life in Boston and moved to an island in the middle of the Atlantic was so that I could have a more balanced life and schedule.

 

 

There is no glamour in being busy all of the time, and these days, having that full a schedule means that I have lost control over what I’m doing. I’ve said yes to too many things, too many people, and I (and probably everyone around me) will pay the price.

What does an ideal week look like for me? It has my teaching and coaching work in the afternoons, mornings are free for calls and writing and practicing, and evenings are ALWAYS kept free. There is time to meditate, go for walks, meet up with my girlfriends for breakfast or lunch, and if the weather is nice, sit outside on my veranda and stare at the harbor.

That’s where the good ideas come and find me. 

 

 

When I hear people talk about how bored they are, I do feel a twinge of jealousy, but that’s because I equate “boredom” with “white space” and the idea of having days on end of white space sounds like an absolute luxury.

But I also realize that it’s about the same as eating chocolate cake 3 meals a day for days on end. It sounds amazing until you think about how sick you’ll feel after slice #3.

We all need a sense of purpose. Even if that purpose is making the world’s best sourdough boule or growing seeds for this spring’s vegetable garden. It all counts. 

And it’s that sweet spot of waking up every day excited to get something accomplished but not feeling so maxed out that you’re working non-stop at all hours of the day to get it done. Of having things to do, but time to enjoy an afternoon coffee in a sunny spot.

It’s there, waiting for us, somewhere between boredom and busy.

Here’s to finding it this week!

Kate

 

The Spring Session of my 10-week group coaching program, The Profit Pivot, is coming soon (woohoo!)  You can get yourself on the waiting list by booking a (free) 30-minute ‘Discovery’ call with me to talk about you, your goals, and your ideas, and you’ll be one of the first to hear when it launches.

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

How to Turn a Rejection Into a Win

 

As a high school musician growing up outside of Chicago, one of the coveted “wins” was to be a finalist in the Chicago Symphony Young Artists competition.  After the prelims, you’d stay at home, waiting for the phone to ring with the news that you had been chosen.

From there, the film crews would come and interview your family and friends, and later that spring, as you performed your concerto with the CSO live on TV, the audience watched a mini-documentary about you. You got to experience rockstar status for a long time, and you also got to put that incredible line on your bio: “debuted with the Chicago Symphony at the age of 15”

All of my friends did it–seriously, in my circle, it was just something that happened.

Except for me. 

Year after year, I waited by the phone, but the only calls that came were from my excited friends who had just received THE call. I would congratulate them, and be genuinely happy for them, but inside, I’d be a mess. I felt embarrassed, left out, wondering if I should quit, or if maybe it was all a sign that I wasn’t good enough.

Thankfully, I didn’t quit.  I kept my head up.  I went to New England Conservatory and practiced my butt off.  I got better. I grew as a musician, as a performer, and as a competitor. And at the end of the day, while I can recall the hurt I felt at not getting that opportunity, I smile at how little it mattered in the grand scheme of things.

 

 

Now it’s my students’ turn. They are all at the age of competitions, All-States, college, and festival auditions. And while it seems that every week, we’re celebrating someone’s win, sometimes they don’t win. Sometimes, it’s their own devastating version of the CSO competition. I feel their hurt, and all I want to do is give them the tools that I didn’t have at their age.

As a professional musician who has had a somewhat successful career, I know that the wins vs. losses in their high school years (and even college to a certain extent) don’t have much bearing on their future career,  what worries me is that they don’t always know how to recognize the wins that do matter.

Music is hard. There’s constant competition, the pressure to win, and every high-pressure situation feels like everything is at stake. We read the bios of our heroes and believe that we need to do everything they did, or we won’t have their careers. The comparison trap is hard to avoid.

Unfortunately, rejection is a part of the game.  I only know one student who won everything.  EVERY.THING. He was unstoppable. Playing didn’t make him nervous, and everything came so easily to him. Incredibly successful career? Not as a cellist! He got bored and went into something that challenged him a bit more.  Now he’s in a field where he gets rejected sometimes.

 

What does THAT tell you about the importance of rejection to guide us, better us? and help us grow?

 

 

As dear Epictetus taught us: We only have control over 2 things in life: How we prepare for what might happen, and how we respond to the things that happen.  We have no control over WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO US.

 

So how should a musician respond when they don’t get the result they hoped for? Here are 5 steps for getting through the hurt and using it to your advantage.

 

1. Give yourself a set amount of time to feel all the feels.  About 1-2 Days should be your max.  It’s not healthy to shrug it off and deny that we’re feeling bad. Eat ice cream, stay in your PJs, cry, write about it.  Do whatever you need to do. Then dust yourself off and move on to step 2.

 

 2. Think about your performance and write down any wins from the experience.  Did you get through it without a memory slip? Did you manage to calm your nerves more than ever before?  Did you have more endurance?

 

3. Write down what you learned from the experience: don’t drink coffee that day–it makes me tight, or If I run through the piece at tempo 20 times before I’m on, I will be too tired to play well. etc. Now, reframe those as the positives you’ll do next time around.  “I’ll avoid caffeine and stay hydrated the morning of, and I’ll warm-up calmly and slowly–doing mostly scales and mental practice to stay warm and keep my energy up”

 

4. Write yourself a letter from your future 80-year old self.  Congratulate yourself for putting yourself out there, as FDR would say “in the arena.”  Tell yourself how proud you are of the preparation and courage it took to get there. Celebrate the wins you experienced, and the lessons you learned that will make the next performance go better. Talk about how this performance/audition/competition was pivotal in your growth because of everything you learned and all of the wonderful things it led to.

 

 

Those who become all-consumed in their negative outcomes are doomed to a life of misery. They are unlikely to have many friends because that kind of attitude is universally off-putting, and sadly, they’ll never be in control of their own happiness.

However, those that will have successful careers have competitive spirits, but all in the name of fun, growth, and challenge. What is more important to them is the love of the music, the desire to be a part of this world, and to explore it as deeply as possible.

There is no evidence that humans have a limit to their talent. Quite the opposite, in fact. What we do know, is that If you work hard, if you continue to challenge yourself and prioritize growth over winning, you can achieve whatever you want. Embrace your losses as opportunities for growth, and the true win is all yours.

-Kate

 

The Winter Session of my 10-week group coaching program, The Profit Pivot, is FULL (woohoo!) but you can still put yourself on the waiting list by booking a (free) 30-minute ‘Discovery’ call with me to talk about you, your goals and your ideas, and you’ll be one of the first to hear of new programs and launches.

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

The Practice of Practicing

Peter Wiley, professor of cello at the Curtis Institute and Bard College and Conservatory, and of Beaux Arts Trio and Guarneri String Quartet fame, came in to do a masterclass for my Bridge Online Cello Studio students yesterday.

We were about 15 minutes in when he said this:

 

“When we perform, we must commit simply to being as musically engaged as possible and to play from our heart and soul.  When we practice, we must commit simply to the process of self-improvement”

 

He said this to a room full of advanced high school and college students–the kind who are smack in the middle of audition season.  Districts and All-States just behind them, college and grad school auditions happening right now, and summer festival auditions looming in the coming weeks and months.

The music has been learned. It’s memorized. It’s even been performed many many times.

So….now what?

 

How do you keep going without burning out? How do you keep working on it day after day and keep it all fresh?

Much of my lesson time with these students has been focused on answering that very question.

But it wasn’t until Mr. Wiley so eloquently dropped his truth bomb that I realized that a lot of professional musicians are struggling with the other side of this question right now.

 

How do you practice when there is no performance

 

In March, we sat there crossing out performances and rehearsals on our calendars, still hopeful that our summer programs would stay intact.

They didn’t.

In April, everyone started a project.  “I’ll learn all 40 Popper Etudes from memory and record them!”  or “I’ll do a Livestream concert of solo music every weekend!”  or  “I’ll commission short works and record them!”

And we dove into our exciting, fun, brilliant projects with vigor.  There was a collective feeling of “okay, fine. I can’t perform live right now. So, while we wait this thing out, I’m going to do something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the time for!”

 

 

And by the time the holidays came around, those projects had wrapped up. We felt proud, accomplished, tired. Like we had made Good Use Of Our Time. Made Lemonade Out Of Lemons, etc., etc.

But the idea of doing another project was a bit too overwhelming.

 

And then the calendar changed to 2021, but instead of jumpstarting a new year, we had to deal with insurrections, and a volatile political landscape that kept us glued to our screens until a sigh of relief happened as we all watched the fireworks and jumped up on the coffee table to sing along with Katy Perry (no? just me? hmmm…awkward….)

 

So…now what?

 

The answer lies in WIley’s wise words.  “In Practicing, we must commit simply to the process of self-improvement”

For my students, it’s to focus not on how best to play the opening of their Dvorak Concerto, but to lean into the process of developing their sound.  It’s not to play a tricky passage full of shifts and count how many times they nailed the shift (or not) but to take out their Starker shifting exercises and improve their form and general shifting technique.  Because by improving each aspect of our playing in a focused way, our performances naturally improve.

For us professionals, it’s to focus on our craft as well.  Now that we have finished playing through every concerto, sonata, and solo piece in our libraries, it’s time to simply commit to the process of getting better at what we do.

 

Same as a Yoga Practice. 
Same as a Meditation Practice. 

 

 

We don’t practice yoga in order to perform it. We just do it.

We don’t practice Meditation in order to perform it.  We just do it.

And if we do them mindfully, we get better at them.

 

What if you were to pick one aspect of your craft and– without specific goals or deadlines in place– dedicate a month to its improvement through mindful practice. 

 

And to my  non-musician readers out there: You’re not off the hook.  This completely applies to you as well.

Are you bored of WFH life? Bored with your job? Bored with winter? Bored with the Groundhog’s Day aspect of life right now? Then pick something; one little thing and make it a practice.  One work-thing, or one life-thing. Think of it as a craft, and figure out a process for improving.

 

 

No better time than today!  Not only is it a Monday, but it’s also the first of the month (Double Fresh Start).  So pick something to focus on this month, and let me know in the comments what that is.

Good luck!

 

Cheers,

 

Kate

 

The Winter Session of my 10-week group coaching program, The Profit Pivot, is FULL (woohoo!) but you can still put yourself on the waiting list by booking a (free) 30-minute ‘Discovery’ call with me to talk about you, your goals and your ideas, and you’ll be one of the first to hear of new programs and launches.

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

The Power of Your Imaginary Lives

 

Many (many) moons ago, I was a young orchestral fellow at the New World Symphony down in Miami, FL.  I was living the life. I had my own apartment on South Beach just a few steps from both the beach and the celebrity-laden hot spots of the day.

I mean, you all know my George Clooney story by now, right? No? okay, another day. Promise. 

Anyway, here I was, debt-free, earning a monthly income, with my rent and most other expenses paid for. I was surrounded by great friends, incredible musicians, and world-class artists. I was getting choice chamber music assignments, sitting principal for big important concerts, and feeling valued.

 

So why was I unhappy?

 

 

I was strolling down Lincoln Road one day trying to figure out the answer to that, and I walked into the famed Books & Books. Browsing around the semi-chaotic maze that all great independent bookstores are, I came across this interesting paperback that I had never heard of. The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. I flipped through it and it instantly knew I had found my answer. Or, at least the key to figuring out the answer.

On the surface, it looks like it was written for the accountant who secretly wants to be writing screenplays, but I’m telling you, this book saved my professional career. In a lot of ways, it saved my life, too.

It is, essentially, a 12-week guided process. Half inspirational stories, half workbook asking you to push yourself through some uncomfortable exercises. If you’ve ever heard anyone refer to the act of writing in a journal as “doing their morning pages”, they’ve read this book.

Obviously, I’m a fan. I’ve recommended it many times on this blog already.

But one of the exercises in the book really opened my eyes, and I refer back to it whenever I am feeling slightly out of alignment. You know that feeling?  Like, everything seems to be going well, and yet….

…you can’t seem to figure out why you’re in a funk?

 

Sit down and write about 5 imaginary lives that you could be living.

 

This exercise comes in week 1 of the book, and then it comes back a few other times as well. Here’s what Cameron writes:

“If you had five other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them? ….You might be a SCUBA diver, a cop, a writer of children’s books, a football player, a belly dancer, a painter, a history teacher… Whatever occurs to you, jot it down.”

Then, one of that week’s tasks is to take one of those 5 lives and incorporate a bit of it into your week. For instance.  If one of your lives was to be a painter, grab some paper and some watercolors and just start making some crappy art one day for fun. Or if you imagined being a farmer, start growing a few seeds in some indoor pots.  Dig in the dirt–even just tossing the end of your celery in a bowl of water and watching it grow new stalks will put you closer to that world.

 

 

The idea is that as adults, our lives quickly start to center around and then become taken over by our chosen career. Between our partners and children, houses and friendships to maintain and our actual Jobs, there’s little time left over to give to the small quiet inner parts of us that could have been something else.

Especially as musicians. We start doing this from such a young age.  Many of us gave up thinking about being anything OTHER than a musician when we were in middle or high school. Yet, growing up, there were all of these things we naturally loved to do. In high school, I loved art history so much that I did an independent study because the Honors Art History class clashed with orchestra. I would fantasize sometimes about quitting the cello and becoming a museum curator.

 

I often forget that.

 

But sometimes, when I’m feeling off-kilter, all it takes is a visit to a museum, basking in the collection, the open spaces, the sense of history between the then and the now, and that quiet, little, inner part of me feels seen and nurtured.  Sometimes, all it takes is reading a book about art.

 

 

One of my favorite things to do was to take my list of 5 lives, and go over to a place like CVS.  I would give myself a $5 limit on each “life”, but I would buy a small thing that THAT person would buy. A writer might buy a notebook or a nice pen.  A kindergarten teacher might buy some stickers, a photographer might buy a frame or print out a favorite shot they had taken. an IG foodie might buy some large poster board to use as a background for photos, etc. etc.

And so I pose the question to you, friends. If you didn’t do what you currently do, what are 5 OTHER lives you could be leading? What is a small thing you can do to bring those hidden parts of you into your current life? 

 

Have a great week!

 

Kate

 

The Winter Session of my 10-week group coaching program, The Profit Pivot, is FULL (woohoo!) but you can still put yourself on the waiting list by booking a (free) 30-minute ‘Discovery’ call with me to talk about you, your goals and your ideas, and you’ll be one of the first to hear of new programs and launches.

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

 

THE 5 PEOPLE YOU NEED AROUND YOU TO FIND SUCCESS (PART 5)

 

Over the past four (okay….5…ish) weeks, we have been talking about the Five People that you need to surround yourself with in order to be successful at a new project.  Whether that project is a new diet or fitness regime, a practicing challenge, or a new business venture. And as I am deep into planning this summer’s Virtual Summer Cello Festival, I realize this carries into how to ensure a successful summer program as well.

 

This team-gathering exercise is my #1 success hack that I can offer you all.

 

So far, we have met:

The Proof: The person we can look to as proof that this endeavor IS, in fact, possible.  Whether that person has done exactly the thing we want to do (the busy professional musician with a 50-hour a week studio and 3 kids who managed to complete a 100-day practice challenge or a colleague who made a small pivot in their career and made 6-figures in six months.)

The Peer: The person who is walking the walk right along-side us.  When you have a big win, they cheer with you.  When you’re tired and want to give up, they say “I know, me too!” and in solidarity, you both choose to keep going anyway.

The Pillar: Your source of strength and support.  They likely have nothing to do with your venture, but they are there for you—ready with a hug, ready to answer the phone, and ready to say “You’re great no matter what” and  a “how ‘bout I watch the kids so you can practice/go for a long run/have some peace and quiet to work.”

The Professor: From the author of a book to a podcaster you love to a literal teacher, trainer,  or coach. this is the person who is inspiring you to see what is possible for you and is providing information that will get you there. You wouldn’t learn an instrument on your own, why would you learn anything else alone?

 

And that brings us to #5: The Prodder.

 

 

The Prodder is the person in our lives who nudges us (physically or mentally) to GET IT DONE. The person who will say “have you done your practicing yet today?” “ I’m pretty sure that cookie is not allowed” or “Did you send those emails this week?”  This person must be self-selected, otherwise, they are just called “The Nag”.

While being surrounded by a strong peer group can help to make you feel accountable, and you might want to look good for your coach or teacher by always doing what they have suggested, I would strongly suggest asking just ONE person to be your prodder.

For me?  I chose someone from my coaching program. My prodder and I talk most Fridays and tell each other what we are committing to as our next steps.  We’ve created a spreadsheet to write down our intended tasks, and check in on each other through Voxer throughout the week.

Some of the prodding is an encouraging “You can do it, Kate! It’s going to be great!” and some of it is just not wanting to tell her I didn’t do it, so I buck up and do the thing.

 

 

Is there overlap in these 5 people? Sure, Sometimes.

The more successes my peers rack up, the more they become my proof.

At times, my peers will prod me into action.

My professor (coach) has at times shown that she is also a peer as she works through similar issues (which is amazing, btw, to follow along in real-time as she tackles a problem I am facing) And at times she has also prodded me (like when I almost backed out of doing my festival last year)

And my assigned prodder is also a peer, and sometimes we both have days where we look at each other and say “this all feels hard today.”

 

But although sometimes the lines get blurry, the fact that I can state with full clarity who fulfills which role in my life has made all the difference.

When I start to have moments of doubt that I can really do anything to change the world of classical music, I look to my proof. People like Aubrey Bergauer and Gabriela Lena Frank are doing it every day.

When I want to commiserate or share a win without feeling like I’m bragging, I have the peers in my mastermind group. They make a pretty amazing cheering squad.

When I need support, which in my case usually means I need someone to pick up groceries AND  cook dinner, AND do the dishes afterward, I have my incredible husband, Paul.

When I need to learn how to do something, want help shaping a new idea, or want guidance into what my next steps could/should be, I have my coach, Jennifer.

And my most amazing Prodder/Accountability buddy? My dear friend and fellow change-maker Renee-Paule.

 

What is interesting about all of these people is that I felt a strong connection to them immediately.

 

There was something about each and every one of them. From reading an article about them in an in-flight magazine (Aubrey) to seeing them across the table at a conference (Paul) to listening to a new podcast (Renee-Paule)  I had similar feelings of “This person is going to be an important and positive force in my life. Somehow.  And without force, without strategy or manipulation (okay, my husband might disagree about that in his case ;-), it’s all sort of worked out that way.

 

So now I want to know. Who’s on your team? Who’s missing? What people have given you that jolt of recognition when you first came across them?

 

 

I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported me along the way, and I’m sure there will be many more to come.

As musicians, we tend to grow up believing it is ALL on us. Whether or not we have the drive and ambition to get our butts into the practice room, whether or not we have the talent and skills necessary to “make it” and whether or not we have the right personality to get into the “right” circles. We are taught that it is on us alone, as individuals.

But really, it’s about the team. Always has been, always will be. And whether you are a student, a teacher, an amateur, or a professional, once you figure this out and get your team in place, there is no limit to what you can accomplish.

I wish I had known this a few decades ago. It would have made everything easier, less lonely, and I have no doubt I would have had better results in my pursuits, but I’ve learned it now. I’ve lived it a few times over, and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you now.

Happy Team-Building!

 

Cheers!

 

Kate

 

P.S. We’re carrying the conversation over to the Tales From The Lane Facebook Group. If you’re looking for some like-minded folks, come and hang out with us over there! Click this link to join.

 

P. S.S. The Winter Session of my 10-week coaching program, The Profit Pivot is starting NEXT WEEK.  We only have a couple of spots left, but I’d love to talk to you if you think it’s just the thing.  It’s like one-stop shopping for proof, peers, professors, and prodders! If you’re looking to do something new with your career, like start a summer program, concert, or chamber music series, or expand your online studio, we should talk! You can book a free 30-minute Discovery Call with me here, and we’ll sit and chat about your ideas.

 

The 5 People You Need Around You to Find Success (Part 4)

(This is the fourth in a 5-part series)

 

The other day I got a nice surprise email from an acquaintance of mine from Boston. This woman was a regular at my concerts. Not a cellist herself, but a huge fan, and she always talked about how she wished she could play. Well-educated, and having had an impressive career, she retired early and did more impressive things. But she had always dreamed of hosting salon evenings in her swanky home and reading Brahms Piano Trios into the wee hours of the morning. In her email, she excitedly told me that she had decided to make learning the cello her quarantine project.

I was so happy for her, and asked her who her teacher was.

“Oh! I’m not studying with anyone yet. I’m not good enough. I’m just going to learn the basics myself and then I’ll go and find a teacher.”

(Yeah–I just heard you all sigh deeply)

But could I just tell her how to do vibrato? She asked

 

Um. Not really, No. 

 

It’s not that I can’t teach someone how to vibrate, obviously. I’ve been doing that for 25 years.

 

It’s that I can’t just tell someone how to do it and then send them on their way. I don’t care how many advanced degrees one holds from MIT. It involves exercises and repetition under a watchful, experienced eye. It requires feedback and adjustments. It requires information you can’t get from a You Tube video.

 

 

Now, if you’re merely curious about something or you just want to dabble for fun, then by all means, go for it. I’m a huge fan of hobbies (link). And if you’re curious about that weird shaking thing we professional cellists are doing with our left hands, I’ll happily tell you all about it.

 

But if you want to really do it–be proficient enough to be able to play (and read) chamber music, say. Then you simply need to work with a teacher.

 

A Professor

 

It sounds better. And it starts with the letter P, like the other 3 have, so….

 

If you want to get a bit fitter, then you can just do a home workout.  BUT, If you want to change how your body looks, then you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration by signing up with a personal trainer (note to self: book time with a personal trainer, KK!)

 

The same is true for preparing for orchestra auditions, learning a language, learning a sport. For just about everything, really.

 

Especially revamping your career.

 

Take it from me.

 

Back in 2017 I knew I wanted more from my music career. I loved my teaching and I loved my performing, but the entrepreneurial itch that has followed me around my whole life was resurfacing.

 

I did some google searches for help, guidance, examples….anything, really. And came up empty.

 

So I turned to podcasts. I found several that were mind blowing to me at the time. Mostly online marketing and business leaders like Amy Porterfield, Jenna Kutcher and Steph Crowder.

 

I was hearing words I, as a musician, had never heard before: ROI, conversion, launching, email marketing platforms, algorithms, ICA, landing pages.  My head was spinning.

 

But I was fascinated. I knew that as a musician, if I could harness the business side of things, I could, in fact, do a lot more.  So I stuck with it, and I learned a lot.  I felt on top of the world.

 

These people were masters. They were my teachers. But as I dove into their content, I kept noticing a common theme. One after another, they would at some point refer to their business coach…..their WHAAAT?

 

 

All of these business leaders had business coaches.  And they all swore by them.  I was determined to get one as well.

 

One of those podcasters, Marie Forleo, runs a 6-week long hybrid digital course each year called “B-school”, and I signed up for it. It wasn’t cheap, and I didn’t have a ton of extra cash lying around, but I decided to invest in myself. Marie Forleo would be my business coach-even if she didn’t know who I was.

 

I learned more lingo. I learned how to do a few more things. And there were thousands of other people in the course wanting to network and exchange info.

 

But none of them were musicians. And I felt very alone.

 

Our little corner of the music industry is a strange one. Every time I went into a live Q&A and asked something about my projects, I was met with blank stares.  They just weren’t quite sure how to deal with my classical music “customers.”

 

So I kept looking. I had gone from dabbling in business ideology through podcasts and books, to finding a mentor who couldn’t really teach me what I really needed to know. I was determined to find someone who understood both the business AND the industry.

 

Eventually I found that person in my coach, Jennifer Rosenfeld, and as soon as I started working with a teacher that was well-matched to who I am and what I wanted to do, doors started to fly open for me.

 

 

Because just like vibrato, you can’t just read a book about creating a business and do it. You need guidance in real time. Someone there to answer questions, help steer you and sometimes just say “Yep! You’re doing great! Keep going!”

 

And now I know first-hand what those podcasters were talking about, and why they have their coaches.  Because while I now have the experience and knowledge to be able to guide my own clients towards their goals and help them achieve their dreams, I, too, will have a coach in my cheering corner for the rest of my career.

 

And it’s funny how similar the difficult conversations are when an interested client says to me: Well, I think I can completely overhaul my career on my own for now, but could you just give me some advice on launching this huge idea of mine?

 

Um…Not really…No. Not in 5 minutes.

 

For that, you’ll need a Professor

 

Preferably someone with a proven track record who has experience doing what you need to do. If you are just starting out and dabbling, maybe that person is a podcaster that you’re listening to. Or maybe you’ll dive into some of those inexpensive digital courses that teach you how to do one thing or another.

 

But eventually, if you truly want to succeed, you’re going to need to bring in the big guns.  The Professor can help save you months of procrastinating and frustration.  They can keep you from making costly mistakes and they can help you get to where you want to go.

 

So now you’ve got a team of 4. Who’s on your list?

 

Depending on who you are and how you work, and what you want to do, maybe that person is me. But maybe it’s not me. I have several musicians coach colleagues who I hold in very high regard.  If you and I have a call and I think someone else would be the perfect coach for you, I’ll let you know.

Cheers! and Happy New Year!

Kate

 

If you are just catching this 5-part series now, here are the previous posts.  And be sure to join us next Monday for the 5th and final member of your #Teamsuccess

Part 1: The Proof

Part 2: The Peer

Part 3: The Pillar

Join a program full of your peers. The 2nd round of my 10-week group coaching program, The Profit Pivot is starting up in January. You can find out more about it HERE.
If you’ve been thinking about making a shift in your career as a professional musician, let’s talk this week. You can schedule a (free) 30-minute discovery zoom call with me by clicking HERE.
Would you like to hear about future trainings, challenges, and other happenings? You can join the TFTL Facebook Group and get all of the insider info HERE.

The 5 People You Need Around You to Find Success (Part 3)

(This is the third in a 5-part series)

 

How are you doing?

It’s been A WEEK over here.  A week of last lessons, college applications, (more!) letters of recommendation, Christmas preparations, and general wrapping-up-of-the-year type things.  Wednesday night I was coaching a quartet online when I suddenly felt a fever come over me and the entire left side of my face started throbbing. So fun.

Have you ever had a toothache before?

I hadn’t either. But oh, holy hell!

I managed to get in to see a Dentist on Thursday afternoon, who gave me the awesome news.

All I want for Christmas is a root canal? 
Ughh. 

Friday was meant to be a day of calls for the next round of The Profit Pivot AND the big, highly anticipated “Graduation call” with my current cohort, but the universe had something different in mind.

Due to a “mishap” of some kind over at the power station, the entire island of Bermuda went dark.  No lights, no power, no wi-fi, no running water. no zoom. OMG.

It was just one of those days. One of those days when I wanted to question everything I was doing.  One of those days when it felt like the universe was conspiring against me.

 

One of those days when it just felt hard.

 

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret.  This whole career pivot thing? It Ain’t Always Easy.

 

A few (very kind) friends and colleagues have told me that it appears that it was effortless for me. One day, I was a freelance cellist. The next day, I was flying around to different cities playing recitals, and the next day after that, I was running an online festival, restructuring my entire way of teaching and starting a coaching business.

 

Easy Peasy.

 

Ha! Not exactly.

 

Two weeks ago, in Part 1, I told you that I had my inspiration from various people around me who had come up with successful ideas, and last week, in Part 2, I told you how incredibly helpful it was that I was surrounded by an amazing peer group in my own coaching program.  This week, I want to tell you about my secret weapon.

 

This one is so important that I put it in the middle of the series.  Because by now you know I’m serious about these 5 people, and in case you start to lose interest or get distracted by the holidays, at least you’ll have read this post. (Don’t though, because the last two are important too, obviously, or it would just have been a list of 3 People you Need)

 

It’s The Pillar.
My secret weapon, that is.

 

The person that holds you up. The person that keeps you from crumbling in the middle of a launch when you round the top of the curve of the rollercoaster and start barreling headfirst towards the ground because the power was cut (spoiler alert-it’ll all work out, it just might not feel like it in that exact moment.)

 

Your Pillar can be your spouse, your best friend, your mom, your kind neighbor who thinks you’re the bomb, or your Aunt Susie you always knows just what to say to make you feel better.

 

Your Proof? You might not even have met them.  Your Peer? They’re going through the same thing.  You can cry on their shoulder, but they are crying on yours as well.

 

Your Pillar though? They are there for you. Strong, always encouraging, always on your side. When you are on top of the world, they tell you they believe in you. When you’re ready to quit? They tell you they believe in you. 

 

When I was growing up, doing the whole monkey dance of competitions and auditions that all young musicians go through, I would get incredibly annoyed when, after a “not-exactly-my-best-most shining-moment” performance, my dad would come up to me, beaming, and say “That was terrific, honey!  You were the best one!”

 

I was annoyed because he was a) clearly wrong and b) didn’t know Anything.  My friends’ parents were all professional musicians. They knew. And they could be honest about their child’s performance. They could go home and critically break everything down and do a full SWOT analysis of that day’s performance.

 

And there I was with my dumb dad.  I would tell my friends “I could walk out on stage and take a crap, and he would still tell me I was great.”

 

In hindsight, I was the luckiest girl around. He was such a gift. He was my first pillar.

 

The truth is, we all desperately need someone like that in our life. Someone who, no matter what, is supporting us.

 

The person who believes in you, your dreams, and your ability to make them happen.  A person who will run errands and take on extra chores for you when you need to work a few extra hours a few weeks in a row.

 

The person who is blind to your bad moments and is just constantly telling you to keep going, that you’re doing great.

 

These days, my pillar is my husband.  He’s a scientist, and he had to google “cello” the night we met “just to make sure”. For years, he would feel bad that he couldn’t talk to me seriously about classical music, or “my work” the way I could with my colleagues, and eventually (I think) I was able to convince him that I didn’t need that from him.

 

In those colleagues, I have my peers–important, but only 1 out of the 5.  He was my Pillar.  My source of strength and support, and I don’t need him to know a damn thing about my industry for that.

 

The tooth will be taken care of, the calls and sessions will be rescheduled, and the emails will be replied to, but I definitely could not have gotten through last week without some support.

 

How is your team coming together? Have you found your Proof? gathered some Peers? Who can act as your Pillar? I’d love to know! 

 

Cheers,

Kate

 

Join a program full of your peers. The 2nd round of my 10-week group coaching program, The Profit Pivot is starting up in January. You can find out more about it HERE.
If you’ve been thinking about making a shift in your career as a professional musician, let’s talk this week. You can schedule a (free) 30-minute discovery zoom call with me by clicking HERE.
Would you like to hear about future trainings, challenges, and other happenings? You can join the TFTL Facebook Group and get all of the insider info HERE.

The 5 People You Need Around You to Find Success (Part 2)

 

(This is the second in a 5-part series)

 

As we creep ever-so-slowly towards 2021 (seriously, friends, will 2020 EVER END?) a lot of us are thinking about the career curveballs that were thrown at us last year, and are taking a firm stand over putting up with them in the coming one.

 

The lines we were told in high school (“Practice hard, play well, study at the right schools with the right teachers and you will get the good gigs, the good students, and life will be great”) clearly couldn’t stand a chance against a global pandemic shutting down live performances, and we’ve been given a chance to see things for a) how they have been and b) how they could be.  If only.

 

If only people like us took those thoughts and ideas that have been rattling around inside us for ages (you, know, the…. “wouldn’t it be so cool if…” thoughts.) and actually made them happen now.

 

One by one, artist by artist, our industry would change. It would improve, it would adapt, it would keep the good, toss out the bad, and invent some more awesome.

 

But how?

 

Last week, I wrote about how for any project to be a success, one needs to surround themselves with 5 specific and carefully chosen people. We started off talking about the importance of being able to point to some kind of PROOF that the dream you are going after can actually find success.

 

Whether that is 1 person who has done the same thing in a different way, or a few people who have done various aspects of the thing. You can read Part 1 here, if you’d like.

 

 

This week, we’re talking about the 2nd person you need to surround yourself with for your project to be a success, and that is a PEER. (Why, yes. They do all start with the letter P. Are you new around here? I absolutely adore alliteration. You could say I am Endlessly Entertained by it).

 

Also, it’s easier to remember that way.

 

Moving on.

 

A Peer is someone who is going through a similar journey/path/transformation–insert any of those gross icky words one can use to describe the hard work of getting yourself from point A to point B.

 

Ideally, this Peer is starting from the same or similar point A and is looking to get to or near the same point B.

 

This is your equally out of shape buddy that is going to train with you to do a 5K.  Your childhood friend who is already a veteran marathon runner is a mentor, a trainer, a guide, perhaps, but they are NOT your peer.

 

As far as the world of professional musicians goes: Your Peer is also looking to take on a professional project of some kind. To pivot the way they structure their teaching studio, to figure out how to turn their live concert series into a livestreaming concert series, anything that involves the music industry and their role within it.

 

They are just as giddy and excited about it as you are, and also a bit apprehensive, a little terrified and sometimes want to throw up at the idea of changing things up.

 

You know, in a good way. 

 

They will walk the walk and talk the talk with you.  When you’re having a great day, they will rejoice in your wins, and when you’re having a lousy day, they will commiserate with you. It’s hard. They get it. They’ll remind you that it’s worth it. And you’ll do the same for them.

 

One of the things I hear most often from clients who are reaching out to me for the first time is that they feel very lonely and isolated in their desire to make such a big change.  They worry that their colleagues and friends will at worst, snub them, and at best, simply not “get it”.

 

And they might be right.

 

The person who is trying to be healthy and kick some bad habits? They meet up with their friends, who give them a hard time for ordering a seltzer and a salad instead of a Malbec and manicotti. Their friends are still awesome people, but it would be a lot easier if they were ALL trying to be healthy together and they were ALL toasting with Pomegranate La Croix.

 

When I decided to start working with a business coach, the thing that appealed to me the most was the group of people I would be working alongside. That group of people, all of whom were working on their own projects, became my rock.  We took turns alternating between tears of frustration and tears of victory, and having a space to be real in – to not have to hide what I was working on was a big part of my success.

 

I aim to create that same kind of atmosphere in my group programs as well.  Choosing participants who will benefit and enhance each other’s work.  But the alchemy takes on a life of its own.

It’s a powerful thing, The Peer. Get yourself one, or, better yet, a whole bunch of them.  I promise you will soon understand their role in your success.

 

 

Cheers,

 

Kate

 

If you’d like to join a program full of your peers, the 2nd round of my 10-week group coaching program, The Profit Pivot is starting up in January. You can find out more about it HERE.
If you’ve been thinking about making a shift in your career as a professional musician, let’s talk this week. If you enroll by December 18th, you’ll pay $300 less for the course and spots are beginning to fill up.
You can schedule a (free) 30-minute discovery zoom call with me by clicking HERE.
Would you like to hear about future trainings, challenges, and other happenings? You can join the TFTL Facebook Group and get all of the insider info HERE.

The 5 People You Need Around You to Find Success (Part 1)

(This is the first in a 5-part series)

 

Last week, inside the Tales From The Lane Facebook Group, I hosted a 3-day training on how musicians can take advantage of the opportunities presented by our current circumstances to re-write not only their careers but how they show up in this world.

 

As leaders.

 

You see, I believe (pretty strongly, actually) that while we have always known how important the arts are to a thriving society, we’ve fallen into the habit of acting like the hired help. If we were to rise up as leaders in our communities and channel our energy into work that gives us purpose and meaning, we would be helping not only the world-at-large, but ourselves, our families, and the next generation of musicians who are watching and following our example.

 

What does this look like? It looks like teachers deciding that a once-a-week, 60-minute lesson squeezed in between hectic rehearsals and other students is NOT enough to give them what they truly need, and actually doing something about it.

It looks like a percussionist who works between NYC and Europe who is helping other musicians learn to take better care of themselves on the road and in the practice room, and it looks like a singer who, sick of the lack of repertoire being performed (live or otherwise) that is truly representational of all voices, is starting her own ensemble company that will fill that void in utterly breathtaking and creative ways.

 

To be honest, it looks like a lot of different things, because each of us has our own unique ideas and our own gifts to offer the world, but they have one thing in common.

 

 

It takes guts. 

 

It takes guts, and it takes perseverance, and battling imposter syndrome, and overcoming our own self-doubt.

 

It also requires that we not attempt to do it on our own.

 

It’s not easy.

 

You need to get a support system in place.

 

On the last day of the training, I talked about the five people we need to surround ourselves with in order to successfully take on new challenges.  The first person is The Proof.

 

It’s a lot easier to motivate ourselves to take on something scary if we know it will work out. Being able to point to an example of someone who has done something similar definitely helps in that regard. As soon as you start to hear your inner voice say something rude like:

 

“That’s a dumb idea, you could never get away with doing something like that.”

 

You can point to that person/colleague/celebrity and say, “well, THEY did it.  So, I probably can too.”

 

 

You can also literally model your steps after them.  Find out what they did, and do that too. If it worked for them, it will probably work for you too. Do you want to run a marathon? Find people who have run marathons and ask them how they trained. Do that. Run Marathon.

 

When I wanted to start an online summer festival last year, no one had done that exact thing.  BUT, I had seen enough summer festivals up close, and I had seen people put together online conferences and summits, so I just combined the two.  You can do something like that too if no one has done exactly what you want to do.  Find people who have done similar things, and then put your own twist on it.

 

Look around you.  Who do you see that you can use as your proof? Write their name on a piece of paper and pin it to your work board and, without getting all creepy about it (please don’t do that) find out what you can about how they did it.

 

Who’s your proof?

 

Another exciting thing that happened on the last day of the training is I announced that I’m going to be opening a 2nd round of my 10-week group coaching program, The Profit Pivot.  You can find out more about it HERE and if you’ve been thinking about making a shift in your career as a professional musician, let’s talk! You can schedule a (free) 30-minute discovery zoom call with me by clicking HERE.

Would you like to hear about future trainings, challenges, and other happenings? You can join the TFTL Facebook Group and get all of the insider info HERE.

 

 

The Only Mantra You’ll Ever Need

The other day, I was at the optometrist’s getting a lesson on “how to insert and remove contact lenses”.

I have wanted contacts ever since I had to start wearing glasses regularly (hello 40’s!) and I have been terrified of them for just as long. It’s probably why, as desperate as I was to get them, I kept putting it off.

You see, I have this thing with my eyes.  a) they are tiny-I barely have eyelids and my face is small as it is.  and b) they REALLY don’t like anything being anywhere near them.

I have never met a makeup artist that was able to put mascara on my lashes.  Every last one would give a deep sigh of frustration at my fluttering and blinking eyes, and hand me the wand: “Here, they’d bark. You do it.”

I had this voice in my head saying over and over again in a loop: “You need to be able to keep your eyes open in order to get contacts in & out. You’re just not going to be able to do it”

And  I would put it off again.

 

Until this time. I have new insurance, and with it, new doctors. I went for an eye exam and before I knew it, I was booked in for a training.

And so there I was last Friday morning, staring into a mirror with two contacts in front of me and Dr. Lee sitting beside me, mustering all the patience she could find.

It wasn’t going well.

“No, your lid is slipping!  Hold it up!”

“Nope–you’re at the wrong angle”

“Nope. Not in.”

“Nope”

I was on the verge of giving up. My face was red and my eyes watering, but when I looked in the mirror I caught a glimpse of my necklace. It’s a simple gold chain with 5 small stones in various shades of turquoise and blues. I saw it in a shop one day in August and it caught my eye because it was the colors of the Virtual Summer Cello Festival logo. My festival. My logo.

Immediately, I thought of the blood, sweat, and tears I had poured into that project. The fear, the risk, the worry of embarrassment, and finally, the successes and breakthroughs of the students, the friendships they formed and maintain today, and the sense of pride I feel every time I see that logo.

This necklace, I thought to myself, will remind me that I can do hard things.

And catching sight of that necklace in the mirror on Friday, I took a deep breath, looked right at Dr. Lee, and said:

” I can do this.  I can do hard things”

And the right one went in.

She cheered.

“Yes! You can do hard things!” She squealed.

The left one went in.

And then we went through taking them out (it was a much quicker process) and she sent me home with my new contacts.

 

to be perfectly honest, I still struggle.  It takes me a few tries, a few moments of “Maybe I can’t!” but deep down, I know that I can, and that keeps me going.

And I know that it’s just like anything else.  Muscle memory. Trial and error. Getting the hang of it.  Learning how to put contacts in isn’t any different than learning how to play a difficult new piece, or how to create a new program.

It’s always a bit scary.

It’s definitely frustrating.

It’s probably going to be hard.

But that’s okay. Because you and I? We can do hard things.

Cheers to us!

Kate x

P.S. If you are a professional musician and looking to create a better professional and financial situation for yourself in 2021, I hope you’ll join me this week for my FREE 3-day training called Pivot to Purpose. From Tuesday, December 1st to Thursday, Dec 3rd, we’ll meet in a private Facebook Group from 12:30-1:30 EST (you’ll also be sent the replay video each evening in case you can’t join us live.)

It’s all about figuring out what you want your future to look like, and mapping out the route to get yourself there. You bring your goals and dreams, I’ll bring the tools and tips.  Together, we can make things happen. To join, just click here, and I’ll see you there!

P.P.S. And if you want to join the ongoing party, swing by the Tales From The Lane Facebook Group to find your community of like-minded musicians looking to make this world a better place.