As a composer (including my 34 years as a band director), I know what it is like to juggle schedules, teach music, music theory, critical listening, plan yearly budgets, adjust the spending, plan various types of trips, attend regional and national conventions, plan recording sessions, plan programs for concerts, and the list goes on and on and on. Frustration and sometimes the necessary 180 degree change of plans or change in the music composition/arrangement in order to deal with the unexpected can make life seem like its overwhelming.

All this also requires juggling with personal and social commitments, as well as family commitments and priorities. As my dad would remind me from time-to-time, it’s all about doing your best. He would say, “Have you done your best? Did you make your best effort? If the answer is yes, then no one can fault you. If you didn’t do your best, figure out what you need to do to get better and do it.”

One of my college band directors taught all of his students by his words and deeds using the most calm mannerisms I’ve ever been around. His mantra was, “Be kind to each other. It’s important.” Sometimes that may be difficult for you, but try to avoid negative reactions that can wreak havoc on your health and your personal and professional relationships. You may be surprised by the unexpected results that give you more positive feelings than you could ever realize.

Music people live in a world of continual learning, risk-taking, and riding on a roller coaster of highs and lows that are amplified by their self-expectation of perfection or attainment. Always do your best and try to enjoy the smiles from friends, colleagues, and associates when the effort or a plan produces positive results. Balance that with family as a priority and you will be a success. If you did your best, no one can fault you for any outcome. Ever.

But My Mom Thinks It Is A Bad Idea

by Richard McLendon   March 5, 2016

People can be funny and not always in a good-humored way. Amazing how our close family and friends are there for us when we need them, yet even they can “miss the boat” sometimes. Is it because they fear for us, for themselves, or is it envy or just jealousy? When we take on a new calling, career, or adventure, what do we do when their support/enthusiasm waxes and wanes or is nonexistent?

The easy answer is don’t sweat it too much. Based on your moral standards, do what you must in order to be successful. Allow yourself to become who you were meant to be. Don’t let anyone discourage you because most times change is difficult even with enthusiastic support.

The closer the friend or family member is to your heart, the more difficult the decision to move or change becomes. Sure, listen to the advice even if you’ve heard it 100 times before. Consider the risks, but also consider the gains. Only you can determine their value or cost.

Add to this that you’re a musician, composer, or some other music-related professional or your goal is to be one. If finances are an issue, my advice is that you should choose a career that gives stability and comfort in your life, but keep working toward your goal. All the while you should keep in mind that you will need to continue gaining exposure (networking) and more possibly more education while pursuing your dream job in music. You’ll know the right time to change to your dream career.

There are no easy answers, but beware – “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” – John Lennon, (1980) “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”

In other words, time is precious and events (positive and negative) will continue on whether you work, sleep, eat, play, or plan the best of plans. Make your time count. Make your time benefit others as well as yourself. Ultimately, how do you want to be remembered? Did your life contribute to the benefit of others or was it all about you?

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

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