Balancing Life, Teaching, and Playing by Saturnino Tiamson
If one is busy teaching and playing, it can be difficult to find time for yourself, family, and other activities. I want to share ideas that can help you in your everyday life as a professional musician, music student, music educator, performing artist, freelance musician, and the like.
I had more time to practice during my college days compared to now, when I am busy teaching, playing in different groups, and completing a master’s degree. These days, I have limited time to practice, since I am also a family man. I found that a good way to maximize my practice time is to arrive early at your school or studio to practice. For example, I arrive at school by 7:30 a.m. or earlier to work on my craft. You can also get chances to practice when your students are absent. Also, always bring your earphones to listen to music, especially the music you need for upcoming shows.
During holidays, you can have more time to hone your skills, but be sure to allot ample time to spend with your family. You may also practice on a drum pad while watching TV. Practice as much as possible, and make sure that it’s productive, even if the practice time is short.
How can you still dedicate time to perform despite your packed weekly teaching schedule? The best benefit of being a freelancer is the flexibility to create your own schedule. When you have upcoming shows, you can adjust your schedule at school accordingly. You may cancel classes, but after the show or concert, you can give make-up classes. Be sure to talk to the parents so that they will understand the situation better. At times, when shows are doubled or when you are on tour, you may give the gig to another drummer or percussionist or look for a sub.
PERFORMING AND TEACHING
Why do you need to perform if you’re already doing well teaching? As educators, we need to acquire as much experience in performance so that we may also impart varied experiences to our students. This way, we also inspire and encourage our students to perform.
Since everyone in my family is busy all day, we only meet in the evening. My wife and I teach and our children go to school. I don’t come home late, so we have time to eat dinner together as a family. We also stay in touch through chat or video calls. At times, when I have a concert, I invite my family so my children will be exposed to music and arts. My concerts and performances also serve as family bonding. In the same way, when my children have school activities, I do my best to attend. Moreover, since we have several holidays here in Hong Kong, we get to spend more time together, and we make the most out of it. We also have time to pray together before sleeping.
HEALTH IS WEALTH!
If you are going to pursue a performing and teaching career, do not forget to exercise. If you have a weak body, all your efforts and sacrifices will go to nothing. During holidays, take more time to exercise, like about 20–30 minutes. On regular workdays, try to squeeze in at least 15 minutes of exercise every night. You may also encourage your family to join your workout. To make it more fun and musical, you can use body percussion as a workout with them. But don’t spend so much time practicing and exercising that you don’t have enough time to rest. Rest is vital!
My life as a freelance musician is exhausting, but it is not stressful. I love what I do; I enjoy teaching and playing music, and I am really thankful that I have been able to maintain this lifestyle for so many years. It feels good being able to do what we love. All these
things need dedication, wisdom, and perseverance, a steadfast heart and mind, and a strong body, especially if you really want to be a full-time professional musician.
How? You need to decide and just do it!
Saturnino Tiamson is a member of PAS Board of Advisors and the Philippine PAS Chapter President.