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The difficult balance between teaching and writing music

I believe the majority of us composers have faced this predicament: creating VS making a living.

Of course, one can not exist without the other. 

The sudden success of providing piano lessons

Soon after our graduation, we realize Steven Spielberg is not going to call us to get involved in a multi-billionaire production that could pay for our living expenses for the rest of our lives. 

What do we do?!

90% of us will appeal to using the skills we have available to teach students of different levels and ages. 

We, composers, are very well equipped to teach a multitude of musical disciplines. Music theory, piano and composition jump to the front of the cue. 

The piano is maybe the most popular choice amongst us.

Why? 

Because piano lessons are always on demand and our friend the piano is, from all instruments, the best companion of any good academic composer. 

We are well trained and ready to teach!

If we live in London, then we won't be short of work, that's for sure!

Sooner rather than later an army of students preparing their Grade examinations will come to us. 

Our lessons become a total delight for them. 

They are a pleasure mainly because we have the resources to be -what they call- a creative piano teacher

Of course, we are! 

We can not only teach them how to play the pieces to a decent standard, but we are also interested in the artistic side of each piece.

The level of in-depth we apply to our teaching is beyond their imaginations; they fall under the conspicuous deployment of academic wisdom we expose them to during our weekly lessons. 

What they do not know is that some of us are just trying to compensate over the fact that the piano is not their first love but only a partner they keep for convenience :)

The arousal of the teaching-writing inbalance

It is common to experience, after a semester, a sudden overload of piano lessons to deliver in our schedule. 

The fact that London is a particularly expensive city pushed us beyond our possibilities. Without realizing it, we became full-time, and over-time, piano teachers. 

How surprising! We went to uni to study composition, and we ended not only teaching piano but also quitting music-composition altogether. 

The inflexion point

It is then when we realize we need to do something about it. 

We need to make a living, but to be able to write music! If we only have time to do piano lessons, then there is no point in them. 

Then is when compromise comes in hand. We are bound to choose between optimizing our money-making scheme or leaving some time aside for our artistic development. 

The virtuous circle VS the vicious circle

We need to turn this resource into the feeder of a virtuous circle.

How?

We start by organizing our schedule in a much more structured way. 

We need to squeeze out the juice of each spare hour and each available quarters we have at hand. 

The first challenge we will face is to learn to get into the zone quickly.

When we were students, we were able to stay sitting in a chair for hours before starting to write music. Well, those times are long gone, and unless you are very lucky or very wealthy, your daily job might stand in your way from being able to this ludicrous creative introspection. 

We are composers; we are experts in translating into music what happens in our lives. We need to learn how to codify these happenings into music. 

The best way is to pick up the most adaptable feature of each compositional paradigm. You need to identify what each one of them relates to and symbolizes what you want to say conclusively. I will try and write a separate post on "systematizing our composing methodology quite soon" :)

It would help if you also created a routine. For example, you can pick up mornings and save them for your composition. It would help if you built a temple of time where you can lay back and relax in the middle of all the stress of your work life. 

Music exists thanks to our ability to divide time into regular portions. Not paradoxically, we need to apply this same methodology to organize our composition routine. 

I will come back to this discussion or conversation with my self again. Leave me some comments I also would love to see how you deal with this riddle.

Hello to everyone!

I'm glad to be a part of this blog where I can relate to a community of creative individuals with whom I can share this kind of everyday occurrences in the life of a composer. 

I'm also trying to upload the material I premiered with the Camerata of London. You can find some of it clicking here!

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