Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Life of a Young Musician

Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to trade “life updates” with many friends from my Wheaton College years. I want to focus on three friends in particular. Two of them were in my class of music education majors at Wheaton and one is currently completing her pre-service student teaching requirement (her major department is also music). All of us are currently living what seems to me to be the archetypal lifestyle of a musician. Only one word is necessary to accurately describe that lifestyle: variety.

Between the three friends I mentioned and myself, we currently have our hands in the following activities: teaching in public schools, teaching at community music organizations, teaching privately, music merchandise retailing, church-based ministry of all kinds (including worship and music ministry but also youth ministry and young adult ministry), occasional performance engagements, and volunteer service for performing arts organizations.

If I were to broaden my sample to include friends who were also music majors at Wheaton but from other concentrations, the field of activity would be exponentially larger. My point, however, is to demonstrate that even from a narrow field of music education majors spread across just two consecutive classes, the field of activity is vast and decidedly varied.

And I like it. My personal feelings about the lifestyle aside, let me analyze the benefits.

First, there is a certain element of income security. Not necessarily job security, as part-time or contracted work is often the first to go when the employer needs to make cuts. However, when a person is employed by more than one organization, a stream of income remains should one of those organizations sever ties. While it may make filing tax returns a bit more complicated, the benefit here is clear.

Second, there are so many more personal and professional connections. Right now, between all my varied music-related activities, I run in at least three major circles. And I have what I would consider solid, mutually edifying friendships with people in all three. Beyond that, I have an even greater number of acquaintances, which results in an almost immeasurable “network.” I really enjoy being connected to so many people. Those people represent an almost limitless number of different perspectives on faith, music, education, and many other areas about which I care deeply. It follows that I am always learning something new about faith, music, education, and the rest – and that is a true blessing. In addition, it is always a joy to discover that someone I know through one activity is connected to someone I know through another. The whole “small world” phenomenon, if you will pardon the cliché.

Third, it is rather difficult to get bored with so many different activities filling one’s schedule. There is some routine (e.g., church choir rehearsal every Wednesday evening, the same two private students every Thursday afternoon), but even so, every day is different. I would not feel very excited about life if I flipped through each week of my calendar and saw the same colors (corresponding to different categories of events) in the same places on each page. Instead, I whenever I turn to a new page, I see a completely different assortment and arrangement of activity.

I have testified to many people over the last few months how content I am with the life I am living right now. The three reasons I outlined in this article are a big part of my contentment (the other, prime reason, is that I can see clearly God’s hand in filling my life with activities that allow me to use my gifts and experiences to serve many, many people and grow closer to Christ). The varied lifestyle definitely suits the young musician well. In fact, I would be very happy, Lord willing, to maintain my varied, widely networked lifestyle for the rest of my life.

This is Rubio, over and out.