One of the hardest things that artists and traveling musicians have to deal with is balance. And in this case I mean balancing the various facets of life: creativity, productivity, wellness, and family. As the father of two young boys and the husband of an amazing wife, I need to make sure there is time for family in my schedule. I also need time to compose in addition to performing. Conducting is often all-consuming, because the part that audiences and musicians see on stage is just one small part of all the study and preparation that goes into learning the scores.
Some families have travel limitations. For my family, we have a three-week rule, meaning I should not travel or be away from home for more than 3 weeks at a time. This is already a long time to not be home, and thankfully I don’t have many of those trips this year. I am thrilled to continue to work in assistant capacity with the Detroit Symphony this season, so for the weeks that I am covering or conducting concerts in Detroit, I just drive to work instead of flying off to another city. I also am working with the Ann Arbor Symphony several times this year, so this means that at least 14 of my work weeks will be “local” this year.
Being local and getting to make music in my own hometown is doubly rewarding since I know so many of the musicians and community members already, so I feel like it is one big family. Ironically though, sometimes working at home is even more tough than being on the road. This comes down to one thing - sleep. Having young kids at home is wonderful, and yet they don’t understand that sometimes I get home very late, and they are up and ready to go in the morning regardless of what my schedule is. It is sometimes tough to catch up on much-needed sleep in order to be mentally sharp for both study, preparation, and musical work.
As I move forward in my career, I would like to continue to strive towards the balance that someone like Gustav Mahler worked out: the orchestra season is for performing, and the summer season is for rejuvenation and composition. I am envious of the composing performers who can compartmentalize their work and continue writing during the season. Maybe one day I will get there…