A guest blog post by Tony Manfredonia.
You can read the original post on Tony’s website here.
Making the Most of Every Life Situation
A lot of us creatives – composers, artists, developers, filmmakers, etc. – have some sort of day job we’re not 100% crazy about, right? It could be a temporary position somewhat relative to their career path. For example, a filmmaker working as a video editor for a local company. Alternatively, it could be a job that has no relevance to their career path, which is where life brought me upon moving to Northern Michigan this past May (I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since I’ve moved up here!).
Immediately following graduation I had to find a day job in order to pay the bills. When I wasn’t composing music, I worked as an Apple-device Repair technician for a local business between the months of May and October. I now work elsewhere, but our focus is on that serviceman position.
Every day, I would speak to countless people. Especially during the peak of the Summer, such as 4th of July weekend. And every day, my goal was to a.) do a good job so I got paid, but more importantly, b.) continually find ways to network and make friends as a composer.
While I worked as a technician, I was first and foremost a composer.
Regarding my new piece for concert band, I was servicing a gentleman’s Macbook Pro back in June. He had a more difficult hardware situation, so I spent a decent amount of time with him, mainly having friendly conversation during moments of loading and rebooting. I discovered he was a bassoonist who used to play in regional orchestras, so I shared my love of the bassoon, asked him all about it, and had an awesome conversation about everything and anything music. We quickly became friends! Upon his departure, I gave him my business card, followed-up via email, and shared an orchestral recording of mine knowing his love of the orchestra. We maintained a friendship ever since then, and he eventually approached me about this commission regarding the piece for concert band.
Replace “gentleman” with “woman,” and “bassoonist” with “local poet,” and that’s how my piece Mourning Calls came to be. I offered to set her poetry to music, and a few months later we put our heads together and found an ensemble who loved the piece, seeking to premiere it!
Even though I worked as a technician to pay the bills,
I always presented myself as a composer.
We all have bills to pay, right? Sometimes that requires taking a day job to support yourself and your family. That’s what I had to do. That’s what I still have to do for my family. After an internal battle for months, I’ve come to realize that I’m not ashamed to be working a day job. Especially since these two new upcoming premieres of music stemmed from working a day job I wasn’t entirely thrilled about. I can work for a resort company and still be an effective 5-to-9 composer. (Shoutout to Ed Windels on that one!)
Knowing that working as a technician was a necessity to provide for myself and my family, I made the absolute most out of it. I’d see customers on a daily basis, work on their devices, and potentially never see them again. Whether they were a musician, a local poet, or even something obscure like a marketing agent who may or may not be seeking a composer to score their product’s newest commercial, I treated every person who walked through that door as a new opportunity to ultimately make a friend. Plus, I most often only had one shot. A lot of our customers never came through the door again; no second chances to say “Hey, remember that conversation we had about you being a bassoonist?”
A second chance may never come.
Make the most of what’s in front of you!
When you meet someone new – outside at the coffee shop or at the daily grind of your day job – be open to making a friend. It’s one of the best ways to get your creations out there. Friends help friends, who help their friends’ friends, and the chain keeps going…
Changing your perspective about that “annoying day job where you feel like you’re wasting your time” may end up providing you with far more opportunities than you could’ve ever imagined.