My husband and I are musicians. And we’re parents. When we are onstage, we do our best to really be ON stage. But all our “backstage” experiences with our son (our little frog) deeply affect who we are as people, thus musicians. Recent insights:
Many of my non-musician friends don’t really get what I do–they have romantic notions of me sitting around singing and writing music all day. Meanwhile, I don’t get what a lot of my pals do… so, no bother there. But it’s interesting that my 2-1/2 year old already gets the full dimension of being an independent professional performer.
(really, much of my job involves booking and promoting concerts. i answer lots of emails, talk to nice reporters and dee jays and presenters, have the privilege of being in touch with friends and supporters about our music/travels. i load in and out of venues, hotels, airports. i sound check and set up cds. i do rehearse, practice, composer, perform, and teach… but these creative/active pursuits don’t comprise the majority of my time.)
At the end of the day, my admin and music work is all about connecting with people and communicating something. And about putting things together, making something (a song, an event) where there wasn’t one before. I’m an entrepreneur. And today my son demonstrated his entrepreneurial bent:
N: “Mom, let’s go to Tenoch [great torta-making Mexican restaurant in Medford, MA]. I would like beans and rice and horchata. Also, I would like to do a gig there sometime.”
me: “Hmm. What will you play at your gig?”
N: “I will play the song called ‘Thomas’ [theme to Thomas the Tank Engine] on my guitar [plastic ukulele].”
(though he has a number of instruments, it is interesting that he chooses guitar. probably because dad–and three of the important adults in his life, Keith Murphy, Flynn Cohen, and Liz Simmons also happen to be incredible guitar players)
(we head to the restaurant)
me: “Hey, here’s the owner of the restaurant! Would you like to ask him something?”
N: “I would like beans and rice and also horchata. Also, I would like to play a concert on my guitar. Here. At this place.”
owner: “I see! And where will you play?”
N: “I will set up in the middle. Right here.”
(N walks to middle of restaurant, stands against wall, plays air guitar.)
owner: “I see you have it all worked out. This sound like a good plan.”
(they shake hands)
Notice that our young indie performer already understands the many steps of setting up an event: he approaches the right guy. He walks in offering something. (A promise to order food.) He cuts to the chase and makes his pitch succinctly. And he quickly offers a vision for the set-up, showing that he’s a self-starter/reliable, thus easy to work with. He keeps it light and doesn’t launch into negotiations on the very first query. The handshake implies a warmth, mutual respect, and tone of professionalism, inviting later follow-up over the phone or email.
Of course, I am always proud of my young son. And I’ll be happy if he plays music, or never plays music for his living. But there’s a sweetness and support I feel in knowing that he has been watching me. That he really gets and appreciates what I do. This makes the challenge of juggling family and creative career all worthwhile.