In the previous post about my past year, I mostly wrote about changes in my piano technique and the pianist’s loneliness. During this year, my perspective of the pianist’s job has tremendously evolved and my working life has changed drastically. Let me talk about four aspects of my work I had to improve and which have helped me a lot to develop my professional activities.
1. Staying fit and healthy is part of our business priorities. I underestimated their importance in our profession but playing sports, doing yoga, relaxation, receiving massages are far from useless. They are essential moments in the pianist’s life. We (over?)use our bodies, so we must take care of this body and remember we could not play an instrument without it. Of course, I mentioned exercise here, but staying in shape affects many other areas of our lives: food, lifestyle, sleep …
2. Musical Excellence, of course, but not only. Communication, marketing, business negotiations, law… there are a lot of subjects a musician should know about, and he must master certain concepts outside the music to be able to take the right decisions for his career. We can delegate part of this work, but we are always asked for the final decision, and making a decision requires a clear understanding of the situation. How can you do that if you really don’t know what your collaborators are talking about?
3. Time management: our daily fight. We have many, many things to do and little free time. Poor time management leads inevitably to overdue tasks, stress and disasters. Planning, respecting a schedule, estimating the time you need to complete a task are real challenges: we must learn how to stay organized to avoid drowning in work. Free time is precious to us, and is in fact a passive working time : cultivating your imagination, reading, watching movies, all this affects your playing, and therefore your work. This part of “free time” is essential to “feed us” as an artist.
4. Saying no. This was one of my biggest weaknesses. We must understand that as professionals we have rules: we have busy schedules, we must make choices about what fits or not our season and our long-term plans, what interests us or not, what suits us or not. It is our job, we can not do everything, nor accept anything. Quality over quantity. And being professional means you sometimes have to say no. And we must learn to do that because it’s not as easy as it looks.
The pianist’s career path is long, difficult and requires many skills that nobody teaches us during our student life. It is a major weakness in our educational system and if we were really prepared for this life, many of us would avoid many of the art business pitfalls.