the day job

I don’t have one at the moment.

The company I used to work for as a designer went bust in Aug 2008.  Since then I’ve been almost continuously unemployed.

Idle? – not a chance – huge work ethic.

Career musicians have traditionally, by definition, wanted to manoeuvre themselves into a position where they supported themselves financially through music.  In a very interesting video of an address at Leeds Metropolitan University Steve Lawson says

“Being a full time musician is no better than working in a bookshop and playing the music you love in the evening. If becoming a full time musician means that you are playing in a wedding band when actually what you want to do is play solo free improv jazz guitar [then] the wedding band is a worse proposition than working in the bookshop because that’ll be gigging when you should be doin the other stuff. So that’s like getting a job that happens at the same time as the job you want to do happens.  You’re better off getting a job in a bookshop and spending your day being calm and thinking about music and then going out in the evening and using it as a release.

“That’s the biggest change that happened to me as a music teacher over the past twenty years is that I transitioned from telling my students that the Holy Grail was to do it full time to make enough money to live on to going…actually, no, there are more important things.”

Steve says lots of insightful and sensible things besides this and I recommend watching the whole video.

Anyway, point is, I need a day job. 

In the dim and distant past I was a primary school teacher. Great, I could do that again, couldn’t I? Not in Wales. There are horrific numbers of hopefuls chasing every Welsh teaching job. Anybody who looks at my CV will immediately see that I am not a career teacher – so I  just don’t count as a teacher round here. I don’t have a ghost of a chance in Wales. And I’m not moving. Done that, won’t do it again.

Apart from that, there isn’t very much for somebody my age – fifty plus. I have sent out loads of job applications. It is very rarely that I get a reply, let alone an interview. I’m not going to get bitter about this.  I accept that I’m going to have to be self-employed but that’s nothing new to me.

There’s got to be a bit more mileage in another strand of my working life – furniture design.  So I am getting a couple of websites together to address this. The first  cameronpyke-design and kitchenplans are in place. It’s still early days for any business.  

The other thing I could do, ofcourse, is teach guitar and other related stuff. That would be very much in keeping with the Lawson career model. I’ve done it before and enjoyed it.  You learn a lot form teaching music. Paradoxically, although teaching is about helping other people, you learn about your own skills. 

Again, there’s a problem to do with the locality here. I could charge £15 – £20 per half  hour in London but Cynon is one of the most economically depressed areas in the UK (and that before the recession). I might get a fiver.   The other thing is I don’t like being tied to the routine of giving people weekly lessons. But I am looking at ideas for teaching groups on a one off basis.

 Also, I’ve been looking at other ways to use my teaching degree.  I have nearly completed an A1 Assessor award, which opens the door to all kinds of training in business and industry.  One possibility is using my teaching qualification and experience (I’ve taught adults as well as kids) as the basis for training trainers. Alternatively I could develop courses in kitchen design and setting up small businesses. 

Within the first few minutes of his address Steve says “Now is the best time ever for musicians”.  He’s talking about a sustainable, lean and mean, light-on-its-feet approach to the music business. In some ways, the statement may be true for the whole economic community. Here is a time when entrepreneurs can cut away the dead wood encumberances of old business, and new entrepreneurs, without the baggage of debt, premises, company cars etc. have a head start.


2 thoughts on “the day job

  1. Speaking as someone trying to support himself on what he loves to do (instead of what he has to do), I wish you good luck with it.

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