The mother of my current host family to her youngest daughter, aged five: ‘Your marbles are going to overflow soon, I think it’s going to be ukulele time.’
This did make perfect sense to Olive, though I don’t think I’ve disentangled quite what it signified myself. Like a lot of young family conversations, it relies heavily on insider knowledge of both situation and terminology.
And essentially the same applies to spheres and bands, and in general to freelancers’ employers. You don’t notice it as an employee because you’re only exposed to one and you acclimatise over time; as a free lance of any kind you deal with a handful on a regular basis, as a musician probably most weeks. Your inboxes deal with them much more frequently! And you just have to learn that the same terms mean different things in different groups. (With my publishing hat on, for instance, ‘production editor’, which is my job title, describes significantly different jobs even within the publishers I work for, never mind any others.) You also have to try and keep the right tone, whether it’s for young-ish classical organisers, even younger slightly geeky singer-songwriters, middle-aged working band ringers or part-time lecturers. And so on.
It’s being a chameleon. And particularly as a musician, where you really do different things for different people. I swap gypsy-rock high twiddling for Irishy folk fiddle for para-classical technical control on a regular basis, and in a couple of weeks I’ll need to get my bluegrass chugging and train whistle slides out for an audition. You can’t afford to restrictively specialise as a beginner jobbing string player; there simply isn’t the work. So you fit in in musically, and try to pick up the language as you go.
And the fewer feathers (of any kind) that get ruffled, the more likely you are to get pay out of it eventually.