The best advice I was ever given

When I was 15, my mom decided that I should start teaching piano. I, on the contrary, was not so sure: did I really know enough to teach? And did I really want to give up free time?!

When I finally turned 18 I was still living at home because that's just part of the culture in France to stay at your parents until you move to another town. So by the time I was 19, I really wanted a summer job where I could live away from home and get some more independence.

I applied for this job at a youth hostel in Lyon, and got offered the job, which was so exciting! I was to be mainly in charge of breakfast for the guests, and I would be done early every day, while being paid and having a free place to stay. I was so proud about getting my first real job and I told my mom as soon as I could! She only had one thing to say:

"If you want to make a living in the arts then you have to work in the arts, not in some other job."

At the time that got me pretty upset because that meant that I wasn't gonna live away for the summer. 

When the fall came, I was offered a part time job as a piano teacher in a music school quite far from where I lived, which if I was to accept it, would force me to work long hours and spend a night by the school, which didn't seem like much fun. Of course, my mom was taking care of me and I didn't need the money, so I didn't really see the point in doing it. My mom, of course, had something else to say:

"If you want to make a living in the arts, you take the job in the arts if it's offered to you."

And you guessed it, I was pretty upset about that one too.
Many years later though, I am so grateful for her advice because it forced me to know what my priority was and how to not stray away from it for any reason that seemed good at the time. It forced me to deal with my fears of not being good enough for any given gig, it forced me to realize that the job of a musician comes in many different sizes, shapes and pay rates. 

Thanks to her, I started building a strong resume at a young age, which served me well in many opportunities. Because of her, I realized that working a job different than the one I wanted to do would just take me further from my goals rather than closer.

What she didn't tell me was to restrain myself in anything I do in my field: I could play for choirs, for instrumentalists, play solo, play in the street, record, sing, anything really, as long as it was in my field. 

I always think of my mom's advice when I hear of people graduating with a degree in music who decide to work a "real" job for the summer or for the following year. There will always be a job out there that will pay better and there will always be a job out there that is more secured than working in the arts.
But if you make it your choice to not look at other option than to work in the arts and pay your bills, that will be the best motivation you will ever get, and you will soon be adding up gigs (of different sizes and shapes) and make a living out of it. 


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