Finding time to do the work I want to do
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: This question was sent sent by Jeremy, and he writes:
Finding time to do the work I want to do. As we approach the end of the semester, my own interests begin to move into the background and I become swamped with work for other people.
V: That’s a common struggle, Ausra, right?
A: It’s very common.
V: Probably one of the most frequently sent in of people’s questions about finding time to do what they love to do.
A: True! I still struggle with finding time, especially for practicing the organ, but I remember my study days, and it was a really had time, because usually when we would have academic breaks on Christmas, or on this break at Easter, we would have to work doubly as hard at church, because we always would work at church at that time, so it was really hard. It was, as Jeremy says, that he has to do work for other people, so I guess my advice would be to learn to say, “no!” to others, and it doesn’t sound nice. Yes? I sound like an egoistic, selfish person, but that’s a way to survive!
V: It doesn’t sound nice, because he is on our team who transcribes fingering and pedaling!
A: Well, yes, but sometimes you have to think what is more important for you right at that moment. And if the work is absolutely overwhelming, you just have to say, “no!”
A: Well, and it’s not true if you get paid, or if you get something for doing something. That’s a normal thing. But, I’m talking about people who are using other people and giving you nothing back.
V: What if they are giving you something, but not enough?
A: Well, then negotiate. And if you will not succeed, then just quit!
V: I wonder if there was ever a time when we had more things to do than right now, and less time, or vice versa. Which time in your life, Ausra, was the busiest?
A: Well, I think that my studies in the US. Yes. And, I remember that the closer to the end I would go with my studies, and sometimes I would get a free half hour, and honestly, I would be so surprised, I would be shocked, actually! I wouldn’t know what to do with that free half hour.
V: I think if you are always doing something during your day, this 30 minutes that’s just for you to relax, sit down, or take a break, or take your walk, that would be ideal. Not do something, not do anything, actually!
A: And I remember those times, doctoral studies time, when I would go to the gym, usually I would go to swim or to run, or to do both, but not because I wanted it, but I knew that after that I would get more energy, and I could work even more for my studies, or practice, or do something else—write some paper.
V: Right. Physical activity obviously gives more energy.
A: Well, but yes. It doesn’t mean that you need to exercise in order after that to just exhaust yourself.
V: To me, with finding time, there is another problem. I have too many wishes. I have too many interests and curiosities. In a sense, it’s very good, really, but when you have too many things you want to do, then you cannot really focus on several or a few that really matter, and then I have to limit myself, and this is hard.
A: Well, yes.
V: I could probably list 30 things I’m interested in. And the list is growing!
A: Well, you know, I could easily cure this kind of problem of yours!
V: In which way?
A: Switch jobs with me, and I’m sure after teaching for so many hours, you will have no energy left whatsoever, and you will limit yourself to maybe, I don’t know, 2 or 3 things!
V: That’s right.
A: Work. Sleep. Eat.
V: “Eat, Pray Love.” Do you know this book?
A: I heard about it, but I haven’t read it.
V: There is a movie, also, and a wonderful book. Three things are really important in life. So talking about Jeremy and others who are struggling with finding time, especially for organ playing, what we can say is just, probably not give advice, but share our experiences, how we are dealing with this. Right Ausra?
A: Yes, and like this first semester I was teaching for church organists, teaching harmony class, and also giving some organ lessons. And I just found it overwhelming, because I started to have health issues, and I just said, “that’s it. that’s enough.” And what I really didn’t like about it, I like teaching itself, but what I didn’t like at all was that I could not find time to practice myself, because I was teaching on Saturdays and on Wednesdays, and these are two days when I’m not teaching at the school of art, where I usually teach on Mondays and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. And then on Wednesdays and Saturdays, I practice myself. So I just had to quit that. And I’m not doing that since the second semester.
V: And nothing happens!
A: Nothing happens, yes! In stead of that, I will resume my own practicing, because I have recitals coming up. So, I really need to do it. Plus, I enjoy much more playing organ myself.
V: Doing things that you love is, in this case, much more beneficial to your long term health and success than doing things that they love from you.
A: That’s right.
V: They can still find another teacher, I think.
A: Good luck with that! It’s not an easy task, knowing what they want!
V: And what do they want?
A: They want quality!
V: In teaching harmony?
V: And what do they give you in return for that quality.
A: Well, almost nothing.
V: Mhm! That’s why they will struggle to find someone with quality.
A: True. It’s a very interesting approach, because right now, I’ve been teaching for three months, already, and I haven’t received any money yet!
V: Maybe you will see double money! Dividends!
A: Ha, yeah, I wish that would be true.
V: Well, for me, I also agree with you that I have to say, “no” to many things, and I limit my interests to just a selection of activities that I really enjoy, and I feel myself doing for a long time to come, not for a month or so. For example, creativity is important to me, so that’s why I write, and that’s why I draw. That’s why I improvise. And there are other things that I would like to do, like learning a foreign language, right? But that’s something extra. If I had more free time, yes, that would be nice. But, you have to sacrifice something.
A: Well, you already know some foreign languages, so…..
V: For example, there are instances that they have to say, “no” even for professional activities. If somebody asks me to accompany a soloist… A soprano just recently from the Internet, they saw me sharing my organ improvisation on line, and said, “very nice,” and this improvisation reminded her of the days when she was a soprano, and she asked me if I wanted to collaborate. So, of course, I said, “no” because I don’t have the time. You know?
A: Yes, I think on one hand it’s maybe nice to make music with somebody else, but if you are a keyboardist you will always be just a workhorse for a soloist.
V: Exactly. And you have to think, “where does it lead?” If you continue doing this… if it’s just a one time activity, then you don’t even need to bother one time. But if you continue 3, 5, or 10 years, where does it lead if you collaborate with this former soprano…. Former soprano…
A: That’s an interesting story.
V: It doesn’t lead anywhere.
A: Is she now Mezzo-soprano?
V: I think she is not a musician today.
A: I see.
V: So that’s the the trouble with Internet. You post something, and people respond, and you have to be open for their responses, all kinds of responses, and sometimes you have to ignore them.
A: True. So I guess the best advice would be to choose wisely what you do with your time.
V: Because, otherwise others will choose for you.
A: That’s right.
V: Thank you guys, this was Vidas,
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions, we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.