The Los Angeles Times recently ran an article on musicians who have double careers. Rather than focusing on struggling day-jobbers, the article features musicians who are equally successful in two areas.
The author, Blair Tindall, knows her subject well. She’s a former professional oboist turned reporter and author of the book Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music.
A Mind Racing with Ideas
[M]usicians … often excel equally in two discrete worlds, their pursuits complementing each other. For example, mathematics and proportion learned through musical form may plug directly into another field, such as architecture or computing. Other musicians find more abstract uses for their musical training, citing the competitive nature of performing, the discipline of practicing and flexibility learned from irregular scheduling as among their professional assets.
I can definitely identify with one of the musicians she quotes, violinist/photographer Barbra Porter, who states:
I think many musicians have multiple talents. A musician’s mind is often racing with ideas, yet you’re expected to just sit there without wiggling during a performance.
As a full-time public relations professional and part-time voice student, I often find myself thinking about singing while at the office. (As my coworkers can attest, I often hum quietly to myself while I work.) I am often distracted by daydreams of projects - like this blog - that combine my musical training and PR experience.
Taking the Pressure Off
For many musicians, having two careers allows them to earn a stable living while pursuing musical gigs they really want. TheLA Times article is full of stories about people who chose to pursue new career opportunities, while continuing to perform as full- or part-time musicians. Their reasons - lifestyle, injury, financial instability in the music industry, etc. - are as varied as their career paths, which include:
- Cellist/computer engineer
- Cellist/non-profit executive
- Cellist/real estate agent
- Hornist/web designer
- Violinist/celebrity photographer
- Violinist/marriage and family therapist