Lessons about performing, lesson 38: Maintaining Relationships!

We meet again, earthling! We meet again!

You should know what I’m doing. If you don’t, then please see this list of rules that you should know, should you desire to become a performing musician. Following these rules won’t make you an instant rock star. Following along with these lessons will, on the other hand, give you some chance at making an acceptable income from your musicianship.

Of course, they’ll not all apply to you. Some will be more important to you than others. But, they’ll help you – even if you’re not a musician. There are all sorts of lessons in there for people involved in other careers. So, think of them as a buffet. You can take what you will and disregard the rest – but I’d urge you to make your selection carefully, as they’re all pretty valuable things to know.

Sort of related: I actually caught up the master list of all the lessons. I usually do that on Monday but I’d missed one week and that led to the master list being pretty far behind. Thank you for your patience and please keep in mind that I have to prioritize my time and I also need to keep this as a hobby and not make it anything like work.

You know, I really don’t actually like writing these intros. They’re about the hardest thing to do with regards to keeping content coming. I have said pretty much everything in these intros before and, to date, I’ve said it some 37 times.

Yet, here I am, saying it again! The thing is, I really don’t like repeating myself. I said it once and saying it again is a waste of time. My time is important to me. This not liking to repeat myself was a thorn in my kid’s sides and it took them years to understand it.

“I already told you to clean your room. Don’t make me repeat myself.” They seemed pretty fond of making me repeat myself,  probably for their own amusement.

But, with regard to these intros and many other things in life, the key seems to be to practice. It’s my opinion that I’m getting better at these and that I’m learning to make them topical, interesting, and informative! Maybe…

At the very least, you’ll soon see why I chose my children as the example…

Rule #37: Maintaining Relationships is Hard!

I’d like to share a few of my favorite lyrics. They’re things that are important, or favorites, because of how familiar I am with the subject and how much I can relate to the author.

Beth, by Kiss:

Just a few more hours
And I’ll be right home to you
I think I hear them calling
Oh Beth what can I do
Beth what can I do
Turn The Page, by Bob Seger:
But your thoughts will soon be wandering
the way they always do
When you’re riding sixteen hours
and there’s nothing much to do
And you don’t feel much like riding
you just wish the trip was through
Load Out and Stay, by Jackson Browne:
We got time to think of the ones we love
While the miles roll away
But the only time that seems too short
Is the time that we get to play
I’m sure there are other examples that tell of the same sentiments. If you recall the very first rule, it’s that we not sleep with our bandmates. So, chances are, we have wives, girlfriends, siblings, parents, and near and dear friends who aren’t with us on the road.
I’ve told you this before. When you decided to become a performing musician, you made the choice to give yourself away. You didn’t just make that choice for yourself, you made that choice for everyone who cares about you.
Being a performing musician takes a lot of time. Most of you will have a real job and then play music on the side. So, you’re working a forty hour week at your real job, rehearsing with the band for four hours per week, traveling to the show/gig for four hours per week, spending two hours on stage, practicing fourteen hours per week, spending another two hours hobnobbing with fans for two hours, and another two hours doing band meetings, planning, or drumming up new gigs. Throw in three more hours for setting up and tearing down!
That’s 73 hours per week. Add another 10 for your travel time too and from your regular job. Throw in 56 hours for sleeping. You’re at 139 hours per week and there’s only 168 hours in a week. Those are also low-ball estimates and assumes you’re playing gigs close to your house, your rehearsal times are minimum and you don’t have to travel for them, and that you never have to work extra hours at your regular job and get a paid lunch!
So, you don’t have much time for friends and family! Those estimates are low and assume you’re playing one show per week and that it’s just two hours long. In a bar, you can plan on playing from 21:00 to 01:00 – if not longer.
I’ll point out, right now, that I’m not going to even begin to try to tell you how to make this work. No… I don’t have those answers, but I did write a previous lesson about managing your time.
Somehow, you have to fit all that in there. Somehow, you still need to give your favorite girlfriend some attention. Sometimes, your kids will have important school projects that they’d like you to attend. Sometimes, those same kids would like it if you spent a few minutes of your day with them to ask them about their day.
The list of things that demand your time is pretty long and I’m not going to try to list them all here – but you need to figure out how to fit them into your schedule. Otherwise, you’ll end up with no close relationships, kids that don’t know you, and a life that’s pretty lonely even though you’re surrounded by people.
On top of that, you have emotions to deal with. You’re surrounding yourself with people who give you positive attention and want to spend time with you. These people are often people who’d love to have sex with you and people who’d love to monopolize your time.
It’s not easy for a performing musician to keep a spouse. They get jealous of the attention and, realistically speaking, are forced to do a lot of the work that you can’t do because you’re not there to do it. Realistically speaking, you’re not going to be making enough money to take them on tour with you and they’re not going to be able to go to all your gigs because your kids would like to spend time with someone other than the babysitter.
Your other friends and family also want to spend some time with you. You’re not a rock star, you still have friends and family. I’d also caution you to not burn those bridges, because you may need their help in the future. Your odds of financial success are slim. Your odds of making enough money to survive are pretty low. Chances are, you’re going to rely on your friends and family for more than just emotional support.
And, you chose to do this to yourself. You made the clear choice to become a performing musician. Excellent! Now, do it and do it well. But, it takes a lot of work and there’s a whole lot of risks that go along with that choice. There’s a lot of difficulty ahead and you need to pay constant attention to where you invest your time. Maintaining those relationships is hard – but it’s something you have to do.
I wish I could tell you how to maintain those relationships, how to keep your spouse from getting jealous, how to keep your kids happy and healthy, and how to keep your friends and family satisfied with the amount of time you give them. I can’t. I don’t know you well enough and there are too many variables. I can only caution you and suggest that you take the time to review your personal life and do what you can to keep it balanced.
On the subject of spouses, it’s not easy to find one that understands and is willing to tolerate all the additional tasks they have to do to make up for your absence. I will tell you that they exist, as do good friends and great family. So, take care of the one(s) you do have – because you may need them. Until next time…
Shut up and play us a song!

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