Time – A Matter of Perspective

When you love what you are doing, time seems to move swiftly (often too fast for true appreciation). Contrary to this, when you don’t enjoy something, time seems to pass so painfully slow. It is all a matter of perspective and perception.

When I’m on a gig, time moves faster than I can ever recall. I absolutely LOVE performing, and I usually don’t want to stop once I’ve started. Then my physical body reminds me that I need to take a short break, and then I’m refreshed and ready to go again.

When I practice scales and etudes, I make sure I am spending enough time on each one to clarify tone, intonation, technique, etc. It does seem slow as these are not my favorite things to play, but I focus my attention on certain things each pass to make it more enjoyable. When I finally am ready to move onto the musical selections, that time always speeds by. Before I realize it, an hour or more is gone. More than once, I was so enraptured in the practice session that I lost track of time and my students were knocking at my door as it was their turn for my attention.

These perceptions about time and what is “appropriate” also go beyond my practice and studio time. I find it difficult to explain to my students and their families that I keep a very different and varying schedule on a daily basis. While many of the families have regular routines (up early, children to school, parents to work, after school activities, dinner, homework, sleep, repeat), I do not keep a regular schedule each day. Yes, I try to maintain a regular teaching schedule for my students, but even that changes when I have professional gigs. I inform EVERY prospective student up front before they ever begin lessons with me about my constantly changing professional gig schedule. For most of my students, they actually LIKE the fact that I am a working professional making a very good career in the music industry who also LIKES to teach. For those students who need a lesson every week at the exact same time, I am happy to refer them to other teachers who do not play professionally.

Example is last week’s schedule:
Sunday – up at 9:30 a.m. after only 3 hours sleep from a late night gig; practice and another gig; rehearsal till 11:00 p.m.; bed after 2:00 a.m.
Monday – up at 5:00 a.m.; teach youth program, practice, business work, students, arranging music; bed after 1:00 a.m.
Tuesday – up at 5:00 a.m. to take family member to hospital and wait until finished; students, practice, arranging; bed at 11:00 p.m.
Wednesday – up at 6:00 a.m. for early gig; practice; students; another gig; bed at 1:00 a.m.
Thursday – up at 10:00 a.m.; business work; practice, rehearsal, gig; bed at 2:00 a.m.
Friday – up at 9:00 a.m.; business work, practice; sound check and gig; bed at 3:00 a.m.
Saturday – up at 9:30 a.m.; business work; errands; meetings; still up at 6:30 a.m. on what’s now Sunday morning.

This week’s schedule will be completely different as no two days have the same responsibilities at the same time. There is no routine, and I do prefer it that way. It just seems to be increasingly challenging to communicate this with my students who want 8:00 a.m. lessons when the children are on spring break. Spring break does not exist for me as my students are in 4 counties, plus 6 different private schools and all have a different spring break schedule. For the most part, I explain that they should pretend I live in California and keep the time zone for it (about 3 hours later than our current location in the Eastern Time Zone). This way, they know they can usually call me after 9:00 a.m. and up to midnight. I try to not schedule any lessons before about 10:30 a.m. so as to not be half asleep when they need me to be at alert and attentive.

Again, time is a matter of perspective and perception for each and every person. It is also our greatest asset of which there is a finite amount. Please remember to respect mine and other people’s time and schedule choices, and I shall do the same for you. Thank you for spending your time reading this post.