In the 1980s and part of the 90s, I was in a band called "General Eclectic". We named ourselves that because we played such a wide variety of music and attracted as wide a variety of people to our shows. We couldn't really catagorize ourselves. We played everything from Dolly Parton to Frank Zappa. Of course, we didn't appeal to everyone. Some folks wanted a band that played one type of music - a blues band or a Dead cover band, classic rock or country, but we did it all because we loved it all. Personally, I get bored going to hear a band where everything sounds the same. That's okay for background music, but I'm a very active listener. I like to get involved in the music. At General Eclectic shows, I loved looking out at the audience and seeing a table of hippies over here and metal heads over there, a table of country western fans up front and blues or jazz fans in the back. And ... everyone mingled. My granddaughter is in town and commented on how accepted I was by people of all ages at my recent evening show. That's always been one of my goals.
However, my biggest goal has always been to make my living making music. It took me a while to figure that out. I worked a lot of jobs to make money, some of them were better than others, and some of them taught me a lot. Most of them were just money-makers and didn't make me feel fulfilled. I worked as a school bus driver, a school crossing guard, a daycare worker, a home daycare provider, a piano teacher, a school teacher, a bookkeeper in a bank, a receptionist at a big corporation, a receptionist at an electronic repair shop, an electrician's helper, a house painter, a home and office organizer and a cleaner. I did piece work for a company making and selling macrame plant hangers and worked selling my own jewelry and botanicals. Finally, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and give it all up. I had started reading "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron and realized that I had to just make a move or I would never achieve my original goal, so I gave 2 months notice and quit my job. I had no idea what I would do, but I had to try. As soon as I gave notice, things came my way. This time my work included music lessons but also turned into performances for adults and children, gigs as an artist educator in schools, libraries and museums, transcribing and transposing music, editing music books and finally becoming a Music Together teacher. My dream was finally realized.
It took me a lifetime to get here, but I'm hear and couldn't be happier. Now, the best advice I have for young people is, do what you love. You may have to create your work or look a little harder to find it, but it's not worth slogging through each day doing something you hate. With a little faith and a lot of hard work, you can find your way. Ironically, as I was thinking about this blog post yesterday and how I would approach this topic, I took a break to look at the latest issue of AARP magazine. The personality on the cover this time is Willie Nelson, a musician that I have always respected very much. At the end of the article, the interviewer asked him what was the secret to a good life? He answered, "Do what you love." My thoughts exactly, Willie. I couldn't agree more.