Sketchbook Has Changed, And So Did I

For those of you keeping score at home, this is Sketchbook 2.0.

Sketchbook 1.0 was all about music. I use the past tense because once upon a time, about five years ago, I wanted to be a working musician. And things were going well. I had my day job, of course, but I was in a pretty good band that was gigging regularly. I did a few other things to make some money (“diversified my revenue streams” is how they’d say it in Wall Street-ese): I taught piano, played weddings, and played at church. I made some extra money, but it never seemed quite enough.

I knew the odds were long, that it would be beyond a stretch to replace my teaching salary with that of a gigging keyboardist (I say that realizing that, to some, those salaries might be about equal). But I was determined to try, and my blog about the music business became a source of motivation for me. It was like studying for a test. If I wrote about it, I would learn it, and if I learned it, I would do it.

Then at some point I realized a sobering truth about the music business: it’s a younger person’s game. I’m fifty-five years old now, twelve years away from retirement. Who was I kidding? Did I really intend to plug away at bar gigs weekend after weekend? Keep dragging home at 3 AM while fighting sleep? Walk into my house smelling of smoke, stale beer, and sweat? And for what? A C-note per night – if that?

But those were all secondary reasons. The real epiphany was the day I realized that my goal in music was completely different from that of my bandmates. I wanted a career in music. They saw it as a hobby. And I knew I needed them. I’m a sideman, not a soloist.

So I tried to step away, but I couldn’t completely. I left the bar gigs and weddings behind, but I still play for my church. That’s important to me. And I still accompany my school’s chorus, because I teach most of those kids, and they’re important to me.

And has anything else captured my attention and given me something to do in all of my free time? You betcha.

I use my camera to keep my creative edge sharp these days. I bill myself as a photographer, and I do mean bill. I’ve shot a couple of weddings, portraits, model portfolios, and I shoot for my school’s yearbook. It’s loads of fun, I make money at being creative, and maybe it’ll become a full-time business for me one day. Who knows?

And I also realized I’ve missed writing, although this piece has been no picnic. I debated writing it at all, but in the end I decided that I should give my working musician days some sort of coda in case I still had some readers left.

The blog remains, but the direction has changed. My plan for Sketchbook 2.0 is simple: write an interesting blog about interesting stuff that interesting people find interesting.

To followers who are still with me, thanks for sticking around, and I hope you enjoy the new blog. To those just joining, welcome to my adventure.

-RWO

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