This is a question I get a lot and it doesn’t have a straightforward answer. That said, it may be a surprise to you that a day in my life is probably not incredibly different than a day in other professions as far as the contents. They’re just at different times of the day and in a different order and I’m in charge instead of someone else.
A day in my life will have some combination of these three categories:
Work at Home:
- Practicing – I aim for two or more hours a day but sometimes a good warm up is all I can get.
- Writing music – I lead three bands. We’ve got to have stuff to play.
- Working on my websites – This one and Drummers Transcribed.
- Managing Social Media – I’m super bad at this but I’m getting better. I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- Research – Listening to music, watching performances, checking out equipment and reading. This research is enjoyable but its still research.
- Emails & other forms of communication – I bet you and I get the same amount of pleasure out of this. This is not fun.
Work Away from Home:
- Teaching a class – I get hired to teach high school and middle school percussion and jazz classes all around the county.
- Teaching private lessons – I’ve got seven students that I meet with throughout the week.
- Meetings – Discussing future plans with schools that I associate with and bands I’m a part of.
- Picking up supplies – Printing music and buying sticks etc.
- Rehearsing – Polishing the product.
- Playing Gigs – This, of course is what its all about.
The Same Stuff You Do Every Day:
- Buying food
- Going to the bank
- Washing the dishes
The main difference is while someone with a more “normal” job may be relaxing at 7pm, I might be relaxing at 3pm. While their work day might begin at 9 and end at 5, my work day could start at 2pm and maybe end at 1am when I get home from a gig. If there’s not a gig that night my workday might be really short. I usually get to cook my breakfast and my lunch where they might only get to cook their dinner.
Weekends are when I work the most and I have no prescribed days off. So I might work 11 or 12 days in a row before I get what most people call “Saturday.” Sometimes I’ll get 2 or three Saturdays in a row too.
I don’t normally wake up early unless I have an appointment that requires my physical presence or church. Yep, you read correctly. I’m pretty much only waking up early for Jesus.
We musicians drive a bunch too. Far more than most people. The most I’ve driven for a gig is 3 1/2 hours. 2 hours isn’t uncommon and 1 hour is typical. So a 3 hour gig when you include leaving early (lateness is unacceptable, people – construction, car accidents and snowbirds will make you late if you leave on time) driving there and driving back, a 3 hour gig is really at least a 5 1/2 hour commitment.
As you can see, most of this is self-directed work and that’s the way I like it. I like the feeling of holding the responsibility of my success in my hands. I also like the feeling of being able to measure my success the way I want to. For some people success is money and “moving on up.” For me success is autonomy, being able to do the work that I want to do, being able to give of my time and money to those who need it and being creative on a daily basis.
Aside from some obvious differences, we musicians aren’t terribly different from what everyone else does. That said, I don’t know that many of us really have a “day in the life,” to offer. Every day is an unexpected adventure. I don’t think I’ve duplicated the schedule of any given day since I started making my living as a professional musician.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.