Two-Week Self-Employment Trial | A Curious Reflection

Continuing with the music career experimentation series, I tried to work on my own for 2 weeks this time.

“A self-employment trial?”, you may ask.

Yes. We try a trial before we buy a software, before we register for a class. Why not a trial to a much bigger life decision, like, a career choice perhaps? I like music. I want to do more music. But do I really want a music career? A career shift is certainly intimidating, so I want to make sure that: 1. I can endure it, 2. I will be content with my decision.

Good things is I’ve been dutifully writing journal everyday, so I can look back into my notes with details of the ups and downs between those two weeks. I use Daylio app, by the way, great app! It pops a reminder for me to write a journal entry everyday and rate my current mood. It’s mind-boggling how writing can help clarifying out thoughts. I’ve been having a better sense of what activities I enjoyed and vice versa after I write more! Mentioned similar thing back in the July reflection.

Sat 11/2, Sun 11/3: Organize priorities. Meditate and think about what I want for my career. Organize computer. Think about platforms to upload music. Decided to create a YouTube channel since that platform support easier navigation between songs. The blog will focus more on philosophy of life and music discussion.

Mon 11/4, Tue 11/5: High-performance. Write a lot of music, do MCG work. (even with different timbre, if the melody is not the top voice, and the top voice (not melody) is also moving, actual melody will sound muddy). Noted that I accidentally paid for something but stay calm, learn, and move on.

Composed Clash of the Clans and a short jazz-influenced piece.

Wed 11/6: Exhausted from composing, so read book and watch cowboy bebop, jazz jam at night. Thought of balancing between working alone and working with others in music (ie: film) Learn that if I improvise random things, I will soon run out of ideas, but if I stick to an idea and gradually develop it, I have more material to go on.

Thurs 11/7, Fri 11/8: try singing, practice for an audition. Realize that there is so much to singing that I have yet to master. Followed through with going to the audition even though I tried to chicken out at the last minute. Confronted my fear. Even I suck, nothing happens.

Composed a meditative music piece inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night.

Sat 11/9: Give myself time to relax after one week, watch a movie, do some low-key tutorials of a Ableton.

Finish composing Dante The Doubtful Detective.

Sun 11/10: Workout, try Tai Chi Chuan, decide to try Brazilian jujitsu. Decided to stop going to beginner band practices. Actively think about priorities in life and things to say yes or no to.

Mon 11/11: Frustration from thinking I’m not able to write music after sitting for quite some time in front of a jazz-influenced piece. Took a break to walk and got out of the negative mindset. I’m not good yet, but I can train to be better. Realize that I will face this in more ways and different forms in the future if I follow this career. So beside the ups, I start to catch glimpse of downs in a self-starting career.

Tue 11/12: Jot down idea for a longer music piece. Tried Brazilian jujitsu. Experienced chicken-out effect at the last minute again but pushed through and happy that I tried it.

Wed 11/13, Thu 11/14: Balance doing work on my own and go to places to hang out with other musicians. Went to SVL open mic on Wednesday and SFO and jam on Thursday. Realize that there could be different groups and activities to join for different purpose and different level of commitment as well as skill, I should choose to spend my time wisely, not just go to any meeting. Realize also that I have the tendency of sleeping ever so slightly but progressively later during the day if not monitored tightly. Some people recognizes me from performing at the open mics in both SVL and SFO, probably because I pour my heart into the performance and do something unique of my own. Should apply this philosophy to any type of content creation if I want to be a distinguishable artist among others. Solid time of being in the music community.

Finished composing Something Romantic, Something Ruined.

Fri 11/15: Should prioritize time of what I do and who to hang out with. Out of politeness yes or fun. Should practice politely decline.

Finished revising Dawn with A Crescent Moon.

Sat 11/16, Sun 11/17: Organize things and focus on the business side of music. Adding videos to my old musics and upload them to YouTube to potentially reach more people. Workout. Read. Doodle some music. Find out about music workflow, administrative stuff.

The goods:

I have learned from the last time and be more content with myself for reaching my exhaustion limit and not able to produce constantly. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so it’s important to take time to relax and do other things, take care of myself. Music is a communication device, so while learning music theory is necessary since I’m still a novice in music, but having a story to tell with music is essential, so get a life, do other things we enjoy as well.

I realize the importance of balancing between music craft and music business. If I want to work in the music industry and make a living, being skillful is good, but not enough. I need to be recognized as a skillful individual as well. That brings in exposure with the music communities. Beside, I need to hang out with people and do projects with other people as well since working in isolation is not healthy in the long run.

The bad:

I realize the self-destructing tendency to doubt myself along the way. When we are doing something with an unclear path. There will be times when we question ourselves at a profound level, is it worth it at all, is this all a joke. I will need strategy to deal with those times. We think and feel differently under those times, which can lead to outragous decisions, so it’s best to plan ahead.

I need to plan ahead which tasks to do at which time of the day. Between the areas of music that I need to learn (composition, ear training, playing piano, singing), music business, reading, writing, general self-improvement, I cannot let instant gratification decides which one to focus on at the moment. Building a routine habit is the best way to make sure I tackle everything with enough time intended.

The mixed-bags: How to prioritize my time

There was some good highlight from the week where I spent much needed time on organizing things, administrative tasks of maintaining my blog, my YouTube channel, and the MCG. These tasks can be mildly uncomfortable and seems like wasting time at times, but this is important to pave the way for creative times.

I took the time to try out some nice new activities, give me different perspective on what else is going around outside of my esoteric world (voice audition, jazz jam, Tai Chi Chuan, Brazilian jujitsu), choose what to continue (I’m sticking with jazz jam and Tai Chi Chuan for now), what to discontinue (beginner band, “polite yes”). These should be planned ahead more and stick to the plan.

The up-lifting:

Still not beaten (Telltale’s The Walking Dead reference anyone?). I’m currently back to my 9-5, but this trial has been informative. And I plan to continue pursuing this career path, which may include some more extended trial periods.

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