Today, I have been moving the majority of my worldly goods into my new home. And unpacking, tidying, cleaning, doing laundry, setting up, printing, scanning, filing, replying, communicating. I have not played a note of music, despite having got up at seven and it now being quarter past four. I’m now blogging and I need to do a bit of running repair on my bike, bring the laundry in before it gets dark and cook and eat some dinner at some point.
All of these are things that I used to get done alongside a fixed (or fairly fixed) hours desk job. They would happen in the evenings and at weekends, or on days off taken out of my holiday allowance (US readers may need to look up the last phrase in a UK-based reference work as I gather it has no cultural equivalent). But now (on the music side; ignoring the two days a week of desk work I still do) there isn’t a set of hours for me to adhere to; there isn’t even a total number of hours I’m supposed to work in a week, and if I tried to make it the 21 hours I’m no longer doing in my day job, that would probably be too much for potentially pay-related playing (possibly not on a longer than one-week average) and certainly too little for the gross total including travel, admin, organisation, communication and research / prep. Either way it would be a damagingly daft exercise to try and hold myself to a set number of hours.
A couple of weeks back I unreflectingly referred, in the context of organising a rehearsal, to someone with a conventional fixed-hours job as working ‘full-time’ – and promptly (rightly too) got pulled up on it by a friend who makes most of his living from teaching guitar, therefore often working any time but weekday daytimes (except in schools I suppose), but did not appreciate the implication he and those like him are only working part-time!
There is an inevitable switchover – if most music work of a fixed-time nature takes place outside of office hours (and that goes for concert-in-a-day exercises on Saturdays with professional orchestras just as much as weekday evening band practices), then spare-time necessities or indeed relaxations have to largely take place roughly when most people work. The interesting bit is trying to get the times and energy drains to balance, since I know from of old that there is enough time in a week for me to leave myself perpetually exhausted without being busy all day every day. And there isn’t a set of working hours to tell me to put the viola down and read a good book because it’s three in the afternoon …