Tuesday, December 29, 2015

11 Things I Wish My Non-Music Friends Would Understand

Happy holidays my lovely readers!

I will end my 2015 blogging with a venting post. Surprise!

You may be thinking "Geez Amy why can't you write your last 2015 blog post on something a little more lively for proper 2015 closure?". Well friends, I've been wanting to bring up this topic for quite some time and simply can't put it on the back-burner any longer.

Before reading on, this post is not intended to be rude or self-centered in any way - I write this post in light of my experiences and frustrations when it comes to justifying why music is more than a hobby to me. 

Let's clear the air on a few things, shall we?

1 - The "I can't, I have rehearsal" excuse is a real thing

I adore my friends. I have been blessed with amazing pals from different parts of my life over the years and appreciate when concerns are brought to the table. 

No one is perfect when it comes to maintaining friendships but I can confidently say about ninety five percent of the reasons of me either having a "falling out" or arguing with a pal is because they claim I don't hang out with them as I am always in rehearsal. 

I've received a text not long ago saying: "You kinda suck as a friend because you are never able to hang out when we're free"...

You can imagine the rage that boiled within me when I received this ridiculously uncalled for text because yet again, I had to explain in detail why my choir rehearsal was an important priority in my life.

Rehearsal is not something musicians can just miss to hang out with friends. We've likely had this rehearsal schedule for months and we're not going to risk being penalized because we'd rather ditch for something we can easily achieve on a night off like sitting on the couch and watching Netflix.

It is not my intention to "ignore" you or be flaky (unless you're a total ass and are asking for it). My priorities may not be your priorities so before claiming that I do not value our friendship, you may want to be a little nicer and get some perspective. 

2 - During performance season, musicians need more than a week's notice on plans

This all ties in to my previous point above. It never fails when someone wants to hang out and I have tech week for an upcoming concert. Tech week is exhausting and the last thing I want to do is hang out after a full day of work and a full evening of singing only to repeat it the following day and the next day...

It is important for me to set a limit on my outings during the month of a concert because this girl needs her downtime and sleep. If I say no to a hangout, I am not saying no because I am ignoring you, I am saying no because my brain is mush from a 12-hour on-the-go day and I'd prefer to be fully engaged in conversation. 

3 - We can't always get you free tickets to our concerts

While we'd love to help you out with discounts and/or free tickets from time to time, we also have to maintain support of our own music group's finances in hopes that we at least break-even for the expenses of the concert we put all our energy into. Putting on a concert is not cheap and ticket buyers are what keep my choir in the black. It would be awesome if you could help us out by paying a full price ticket once in a while. 

4 - No I can't just sing on the spot and no I will not sing Phantom of The Opera

"OMG you sing opera? I LOVED Phantom of the Opera! Can you sing one of their songs?" 

My non-music friends are hilarious. 

I appreciate your curiosity and enthusiasm but I'd rather not belt into song at a party with eager ears and not properly warm up for at least ten minutes.
I know this sounds snobbish but I've done this before because peer pressure and my throat felt as if I swallowed sharp knives for days because I was drinking beer and eating spicy foods at said party.
I will also look like a tool if I waste everyone's time warming up by making weird sighing sounds in the corner by myself. That is just awkward for everyone. 

5 - Just because I sing in front of large crowds doesn't mean it is easy to sing in front of friends, even at a karaoke bar.

I came across this great article by Chris Rowbury on why it is much scarier to sing in front of your friends. Very insightful:


6 - We'd rather be paid for event gigs

Yes, the gesture to ask us to sing/play at a wedding is flattering and we're open to performing for free here and there BUT the preparation for performing and set up is a lot more strenuous than you think. I've come across this popular meme which sums up my feelings:

7 - No I will not audition for The Voice or X-Factor


I don't need judges or producers from a TV show to tell me what I should wear, how to do my makeup, and basically strip me of my craft as a singer with statements and opinions that will do absolutely nothing for me in my training as a singer. Why does everyone think this path is the best option for aspiring musicians? I will never know. 

8 - We can be a weird bunch after practice

Hey, if you had to to go over German Latin diction for hours you'd be drinking steins and incorporate a loud and harsh German accent in a heated conversation too!

Fun fact - I love it.

9 - There is more to a music career than performing or teaching

This point is more forgiving since many of my friends are genuinely curious on what a music degree can entail as a career. Sure, teaching and performing are the main contenders but there are so many more options you may not be aware of:

- Arts Administration (my field!)
- Musicology and Research
- Composing / Arranger
- Accompanist
- Music Agent
- Sound Engineer
- Church Music Director
- Music Clinician
- Conductor
- Event Management
- Fundraising and Development

and the list goes on...

10 - Obtaining a Music degree is more stressful than you think

Yes, proving your talent can be very, very challenging. On top of regular course load and exams and assignments, music students are expected to practice daily and partake in numerous concerts and auditions throughout the academic year, holidays and the summer.

I've written a post on this very topic if you'd like to read further:
Big Bad World of University

And finally...

11 - Pretending you're interested in our passion to be nice is more damaging

We can tell, pretty blatantly. A part of being a musician is trying to engage and gain support from your family and friends. 

We get it. Grandiose operas and classical music isn't everyone's cup of tea. What we don't get is when you put on a masquerade saying how you are so pumped to see a performance and then make little effort to actually be there. 

Look -  we aren't asking you to be at every show - we are asking that you experience it once and decide for yourself if this type of music tickles your fancy. It also makes us feel wanted, confident and proud that people came to hear us. Many of us depend on this support system for encouragement and if you're not honest with us from the beginning, we will begin to resent you, your broken promises and question the value of the friendship. After all, isn't friendship about support and sharing a common goal of appreciating each other's interests and ambitions? 

This is our passion, so treat it better than just a hobby we do on a Wednesday night. It shapes who we are as artists and it is worth every damn minute. 

 ...So there you have it. I hope this provides some insight on the little frustrations which I am positive many musicians have dealt with on some level. 

Again, I adore all of you. We just need a good chat once in a while. 

Now to liven up the mood:

Thanks for reading! 

- Blonde in the Choir

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