Dropping the statement, 'I am a professional musician' at a social gathering, or at the dinner table with the extended family is almost always met with these two responses: *surprised, smiling face* "It's great to hear that you are doing something you love with you life", and then "What do you do then?" That second statement (the question) often gets this response: blank stare, half open mouth, thinking what the simplest way to describe my life is. I can't simply bombard them with, "well I played for this ensemble's' concert last week, and I am playing a reception next week, and I am collecting research data, and then I have this accompaniment gig, etc etc etc etc" on and on for ever. And that is maybe not even the best description of what it IS that I do. If were to explain what it is I am always striving to do I would say "spread joy, through music, performance experience and education" I would have the follow up question "Great, but what's your job?" as if to imply that I can't earn a living that way! I know....if you are a musician reading this I'm sure you've had similar experiences.
Well folks, I'm going to try and answer the question "What do musicians do?" through a series of blog posts including interviews with guests specializing in different areas of the music world. This series' purpose is to give some insight, not simply into how a musician earns a living, but how our craft interacts with our lives, how the experience of working in this field effects us and those around us, and most importantly to demonstrate the great variety of things we do and how we all become interconnected through our areas of expertise.
Many people who know me, know that I am an outgoing person, and I love to host, but when attending another's social gatherings I turn out to be quite shy to speak and find it frustratingly difficult to hold a conversation, let alone begin one! In these situations, sometimes I just want to hide in the corner, take my instrument out, please myself by playing music and ignore the fact that I can't seem to connect with anyone around me. Well I did just this the other day at a holiday party, and what happened but a elderly man who hadn't been speaking much either came up to me and told me he had brought his harmonica and asked if I'd like to play with him. Of course I said yes and we played half a dozen or so old tunes which I was able to improvise accompaniments to. Suddenly I'd made a connection with someone. Both of us were smiling, enjoying ourselves, along with the others in the room. After that we put the instruments down; I learned that he often played and danced at some of the local dance events and I shared a bit about my experience at community dances. The ability to improvise and be spontaneous that I work on and value so much with my musician colleagues in 'performance land' became the means to make meaningful connections in the big scary and intimidating area of *real world human interaction*. What I'm trying to demonstrate here is that in my life, even if I pursue it as a career, music is not merely something to be shared through performance and concertizing, it is an art, activity, whatever you like to call it, that brings people together. And thank god for that! It means that I can step out of the performance spotlight and play with anyone in any situation and continue to create something of real value.
Next week I will be in conversation with composer Arie van de Ven about his life as a music creator. Arie is a good friend of mine and a wonderful composer. Currently I am working with the Cygnus Trio towards a February world premiere of his piece Algoma Miniatures for flute, violin and guitar; an image rich four movement piece depicting towns in the Algoma region of Ontario. Keep posted, we will be updating our performance schedule very soon to include the date and venue of this performance in Toronto.
As always you can keep up do date on my performances and recordings via my website www.jonathanstuchbery.com but do consider joining my mailing list and you will have all the most recent information sent directly to your inbox and which will soon feature exclusive links to recordings.
You can also follow the Cygnus Trio at www.thecygnustrio.com
THANKS FOR READING