This is a topic I’m sure many of us musicians may fear of encountering or currently living.
First off, we knew that pursuing music was going to be a difficult career in general, and we were doubled that challenge once COVID took a major hit on us last March.
· Our concerts & gigs were delayed or cancelled.
· Some of our private students took a brief hiatus or quit lessons altogether.
· Teaching gigs in schools were put on hold.
Our lives turned to a complete 180, and we were left to wonder how the hell we were going to afford our livelihoods with little work.
I had a feeling COVID was going to change my music life, and while I worked on how to adapt to virtual teaching and performing, I was continuing a routine with my two side jobs as a barista at La Belle Rosette Espresso and Wine Bar & assistant for my boss who works for the Colorado Dude Ranch Association.
“Why juggle 3 jobs in the first place Cat?”
Before COVID, I was stuck in a rut where I had totaled my 2005 Toyota Camry, so I found myself struggling to pay off both a car, an alto flute & other monthly bills just so I could “survive”.
I was already teaching at a few schools in the area on a weekly basis, teaching privately, performing & being a barista, but I wanted to break away from working at the coffee shop & try a new opportunity that would help me become more self-sufficient. That was when I found my assistant job for CDGRA (ironically on Craigslist that wasn’t sketchy), where I was able to put those OCD skills in action.
I had this plan that I was going to become more self-sufficient by the end of 2020, but COVID hit the entire planet and half of my music income was gone.
At first, I was depressed. Everything that I had worked for the past year and hoped to continue was over. I had this thought recurring in my mind saying, “You are failing Catherine.”, and I was legitimately scared if I was ever going to pay off my car and continue my portion of the rent while still managing my music expenses for teaching & personal use.
While I was trying to figure out my music life, I was 100% thankful that I still was able to work my other two jobs as normal. Yes, there were some setbacks with limited hours with these jobs, but I told myself, “You can make this work and get your other shit figured out in the process.”
I spent the rest of 2020 investing on growth.
As I took time working on ways to be more interactive for my flute students online & marketable for prospective teaching opportunities, I also became more engaged utilizing the different skills I acquired with my other two jobs.
At the coffee shop, I was still able to socialize and connect with my customers which was a great refresher from talking about flute all the time with my students. Sure, I may have focused on perfecting/experimenting with different drinks but having a connection with my regulars led them to be interested in future concerts & helped me gain students in the process.
My assistant job helped me utilize a little more of my OCD skills with organization, social media planning, & marketing online ads. It’s important to utilize these types of skills as a musician in general, especially if we want our presence to be known to others in both the music and non-musical communities.
Sure, these jobs don’t scream, “I’m a flutist!”, but sometimes exploring a different world that doesn’t relate to music is refreshing, and it’s good to put yourself out there to a different crowd because musicians love to be around other musicians (aka. it’s our comfort zone).
These jobs are also flexible around my teaching schedule. I’m a PLANNER from head to toe, so I have been able to schedule myself adequately where no jobs clash with one another. I also create a weekly day off for me to rest, practice without time constraints, and explore other enjoyable activities.
Lastly, these jobs helped me from sinking into a complete financial rut. It wasn’t the ideal situation I had for 2020…and today, but they’re keeping me going. Plus, I am able to pay off all those bills, bills, bills (quoting Destiny’s Child here) and live comfortably for the time being. I’ll also add that having these side jobs helped me acquire the instruments I had only dreamed of having, such as my piccolo that I bought in one payment from 1 ½ years of pizza deliveries.
Will this last forever? No. I’m still working my ass off in the music world and continue to do so during this time.
Does it make me less of a musician or human? Absolutely not. I realized that this was the life I chose for myself, and I knew it was going to be a constant WORK IN PROGRESS. Sure, I could have a settled for a normal 9-5 and be more financially sufficient, but I tried that once upon a time…that life was not for me…
We’re all wired differently and work in that way. If we need to find side jobs to help us continue our music path or help us to live our life, then that is 100% okay.
To all my musician friends who are steaming milk for lattes, delivering all the food to the hungry humans, or working a remote job that doesn’t particularly relate to Bach, I feel you, and we’re all in this together right now. This is our temporary status, but I encourage you to continue the work that will help reach your music goals because it isn’t over!
Trust me, this is coming from a 28 year old, barista/office assistant/flutist herself, and she’s not giving up!