Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Staying busy

... has been easier than I thought.

But, it's one thing to be busy, and another to be focused. I've always struggled to concentrate on one thing. In part because I've always spent a lot of time working on stuff I "should" be doing. Like TPS reports, customer service, and class assignments. Now that I'm my own boss, it's time to prod my schedule to see if I'm focused or just busy.

The most common question I've received so far is some version of: "What's your average day like?" Well, I'll do ya one better! How about an average week?

((WARNING: lots of tasks and times to follow... if easily bored by lists, proceed to the bottom))


  • Wake up (around 8:30am)
  • Read, breakfast, and exercise... all at once!! (done by 10am)
  • Piano: scales and sight reading (10 to 11am)
  • Sax: long tones, scales, pattern work (11am to 1pm)
  • Lunch, shower, break (done by 2pm)
  • Sax or Piano or Transcribe: depending on gigs (done by 3:15pm)
  • Improv class at Clackamas Community College (4 to 5pm)
  • Drive to piano lessons at my Grandpa's (Jeopardy starts, and lesson ends at 7pm)
  • Back home, make dinner with the beautiful and talented Kelly
  • One more quick piano/sax workout in between 9 and 10pm
  • 11pm bedtime because....
  • Wake up (7am)
  • Read, write a little for blog (yes, more posts to come!)
  • Practice with Stephanie: killer tenor player in Brownish Black (done by 11am)
  • Yoga (11 to noon)
  • Lunch (done by 1pm)
  • Sax: long tones, scales, pattern work (done by 2:30pm)
  • Transcribe: my current tune (stop by 3:30pm)
  • Break! (until 4pm)
  • Back to the sax (done by 6pm)
  • Dinner, email, walk the little monster, hang with Kelly
  • Piano/transcribe right before bed (zzzz by Midnight)
  • Wake up (8am)
  • Volunteer with Friends of Seasonal & Service Workers (9am to 1pm)
  • Back home to relax and lunch (done by 2pm)
  • Sax: scales, then work on tunes (2 to 5pm)
  • Spend time with my love, Kelly.
  • Piano/sax depending on gigs/rehearsals (done by 7:30pm)
  • LoveBomb Go-Go rehearsal (8 to 11pm)
  • Sleep!
  • Get up, eat, shower (by 8:30am)
  • Hit the music theory books with Eric Vanderwall (9 to 10:30am)
  • Sax: scales, long tones, patterns, charts (11 to 1:30pm)
  • Lunchtime
  • Transcribe (2pm to 2:30pm)
  • Sax: learning tunes and composing (3 to 5pm)
  • Hang with my sweetheart Kelly
  • Business stuff... email, expenses, schedules, etc. (around 8pm)
  • Piano: scales and such (done by 11pm)
  • Bed
  • Wake up and listen to music (by 8am)
  • Yoga or run/gym (9:30 to 11am)
  • Sax: pattern work, long tones, scales (11:30 to 1:30pm)
  • Lunch break (done by 2:30pm)
  • Transcribe (2:30 to 3pm)
  • Piano: scales and workbooks (done by 4pm)
  • Sax: work on Sus tunes (4 to 5pm)
  • Rehearsal with Sus (6 to 8pm)
  • Family time with Kelly and our fur-child, April.
  • LoveBomb Go-Go gigs: now that Portland's done hibernating, we've become very busy
  • Sleep (who knows when)
  • Yoga (9:30am to 10:30am)
  • Sax: long tones and scales (11 to noon)
  • Rehearsal with Sus (1 to 2:30pm)
  • Weekend time with Kelly!
  • Piano/transcribe: depending on gigs (between 5 and 7pm)
  • LoveBomb gigs or practice sax
  • Then, maybe sleep.
  • Wake up and such (9 or 9:30am)
  • Neighborhood food drive with Friends of Seasonal & Service Workers (10am to 4pm)
  • Dinner with the family (Kelly and April)
  • Sax: studying tunes (after dinner until 8ish)
  • Either work on sax fundamentals or go to Ron Steen's jazz jam (9pm to midnight)
  • 10 to 20 minutes of piano before bed

There it is. Now you know more about my daily routine than my mom does (or did, hi mom!). Also, I'll share this now because I know you're wondering... this is the little monster, AKA fur-child or just April:
April in her standard shoulder position between practice sessions.

Spending as much time as possible doing what you love must be the (not-so-secret) secret to a good life. Because I'm the happiest and healthiest I've ever been. I've managed to stay busy and somewhat focused. But, the beauty of my schedule is that I can change it however I want/need. If you have ever attempted to focus intensely on learning something - keep your ideas and suggestions coming!

My next few posts will highlight the discussions and informational interviews I've done so far with local musicians/mentors.

Thanks for checking-in!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Never been better (or worse)

Speaking of how to make money...

Some say there has never been a better time to do more than one thing.
Others say there has never been a worse time to do only one thing.

Some are optimists: Creating multiple streams of revenue has never been easier -- so go get it!
Others are realists: Wages stagnated decades ago -- you've got no choice but to hustle more.

These two voices have become a theme of my first few weeks as a freelancer. Music has an economic path about as easy to see as the Milky Way above Manhattan. How exactly do you survive in this business?

My search to answer that question led me to perspectives from some trusted sources:
John Gross,  Ahmad Jamal, John Nastos, Colin Malloy, Cliff Waits, Jazelle Green-Younger, and Justin Schepige (to name a few).

John Gross told me to "always have a 'plan B' just in case your first choice doesn't pan out." Worse case scenario is you'll be doing your second favorite thing.

Ahmad Jamal had this to say last week (from his talk at PSU): "If you only have one exit door, you may get trampled to death if a fire breaks out. Prepare yourself with options. Learn how to compose, orchestrate, perform and teach so you don't have to be somewhere because you have to be. It's much better to be somewhere because you want to be."

A living example of Jamal's advice is local sax beast John Nastos. From our recent talk, he makes ends meet by gigging, teaching, composing, arranging and he built a killer metronome app.

Now's the time to turn that passion/hobby/obsession of yours into a revenue stream. Because it's what you love and the new connection economy is built by and for you! Oh and also, because you can't afford to do only one thing.

There are many many examples of people that have found a way to make it work. I hope to be one of them some day soon. As for the optimist and realist -- they're both right.