People Tell Me I am Organized. Here’s the Truth of the Matter…

Students are returning to school, there is a new breeze rustling the trees, and all of a sudden I have noticed the sun setting just a little bit earlier in the evenings. I am really excited because it is signalling change, which I love. When I exclaim my fondness for change, some people look at my like I have two heads! But for me, change keeps things so interesting and exciting. It is a page turner in a book- in my own story! And so I have been busying myself in this seasonal transition, getting ready for the return of cello students, performing for the last of wedding season (September seems to be the most popular month to get married in NS!) and either finding a home for my clutter, or kicking it to the curb 🙂 Let the organization begin! 

The life of a musician is so full of activity that being organized is essential to keeping calm and doing my best work. Organizing saves me time, prevents me from losing my stuff, and it keeps things tidy over the long run because I have already designated places to throw this and that when I am running in and out the door. As my good friend Andrea always says, I am do it because future self will really thank past self! 😉 lol…

One thing that I have always appreciated about being a musician is it demands the kind of skills that are useful in so many aspects of life. When it comes to working as a musician, you have to be organized with your time and your practice. For example, if orchestra rehearsal starts at 10am, that means you will plan to show up around 9:30, to have time to get your instrument and equipment out, and to make any last minute preparations, so you will be in your chair and ready to tune when the oboist plays the A.

My tried and true strategy I use for organizing my time is to count backwards. It works like this: If the wedding ceremony starts at 4pm, that means I need to start the background music at 3:30pm, which means I need to make sure I am at the venue at 2:30pm to unload, set up and tune up, which means… (breath!), which means I need to plan to arrive at 2:00pm in case there is any traffic or mishaps on the way there or even when I arrive. “Oh did we say we would provide chairs for the musicians?… No problem, just walk to the end of the hall, turn right, walk to the end of that hall and take the elevator to the basement…”

Another area where organization is essential to musicians is in their practice. Ah, to have all the time in the world to just play through everything in that pile sitting next to your cello! Alas, this is very rarely or really just never the case. 
When it comes to practicing, one needs to strategically target what specifically they need to improve on, so no time is wasted on bits that don’t really need very much attention. Sometimes some real restraint is needed not to go through the easy, beautiful stuff when there is limited time and a bunch of difficult, still-not-beautiful-yet stuff needing work. Being clear about what work is needed and what is not is essential to being successful in practice. That is of course in addition to keeping your music parts and paperwork properly filed into folders and binders and to have them ready to pull out or pop into your gig bag at a moment’s notice. I also think most people would agree that a big part of keeping a space organized is getting rid of superfluous stuff. So in my home and in my small business, I aim to do the same as in cello practice- not to hold on to or give energy to more than what is necessary. 

As part of my lifelong training as a musician and consequently as an organizer, I have learned that you must be patient with yourself (if you have ever studied music, you know this is true!) and realize that being organized is about constantly managing your work rather than fixing it and forgetting it! Besides, it feels very good to take some moments at these times of renewal, like a personal new year, to rethink and re-organize! Not only is it a chance to adjust your surroundings and make them more comfortable, it is a great time to move around the inner furniture. Didn’t you know you have an inner sofa and television set? Haha, for me the “inner furniture” is the commitments you have made to yourself and they way you choose to live your life. It’s fun to rethink and rearrange those things too! Maybe going to that place every Thursday is not your thing after all, or maybe you don’t need to hang on to that friendship that was never really all that friendly. Or maybe this is the year your dreams of joining the zip-lining club come true! Or, maybe you just need a little more music in your life 🙂 Cello concerts, anyone?

Best wishes to all of you at this time of year and I hope you enjoyed a little peek into the mind of one musician. As always, I love to hear your thoughts and just to say hello, so don’t be shy to send an email or to say hello next time we see each other. 

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