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Entry date: 9-10-22 - So You Want To Band it Up - Self-Help Squirrel

Dear Friends,

Happy Saturday. We made it through another week and a short one at that. This week always is a bit bittersweet for me as it is the anniversary of losing my sense of smell in 1985. Not the biggest fan of Labor Day, but I’ve discussed this in greater detail in an earlier blog.

This week has been a long one with what feels like, as I look back, all the reasons you should not be in a band. I certainly hope it has not come off that way. I would never want to discourage anyone from being in a band. I have been mostly lucky in that the people in my life have supported my musical goals.

This is almost as important as practicing and being prepared to play, really. For those who are young and not in a committed relationship, this can be a relatively small part of your musical aspirations. Luckily for me, my parents were ready to encourage me on my musical journey early on. They were even going to get me a bass and an amp when I was about 14, but I opted for a Commodore 64 instead. Bad move on my part, but I digress.

Looking back, that willingness to help me realize a goal or support my interest was huge. I’m not sure my mom always understands why I spent so much time doing music, but my dad has been very supportive and come to a good number of gigs over the years. Even though I am older than my dad was when I started this journey, it still means a lot to have him come out and support one of my bands.

Support from the outside is really important in your journey as a musician and you have to remember that if you are in a committed relationship or have children or both, these people are part of your recipe for success, failure, fun, or frustration. The ones who share your life outside of your band do get to have a say and have feelings about what you are doing, no matter what you want to believe in your own head. It is difficult, a lot of the times, to balance it all, and a job and a social life outside of your band, but you can do it.

I know I have brought up communication in previous blogs, but it is key here, too. The people in your life who are on the outside of your band need to know what is happening with the band if it is going to impact their lives. Keep them in the loop, even when the news is not going to be something they are going to like. Better to find out from you up front than to wait until the last minute to share that you are going to record in a couple of weeks and will be out of the house all day, for example.

I have made this type of mistake too many times. It is one of the lessons about being a semi-professional or minor league musician that was toughest for me to learn. When I was a teenager and didn’t really have to answer to anyone else, it was easy to drop everything and do band practice. Hell, that was usually the highlight of my week. As I got older, though, and had responsibility and people who were counting me outside of the band, I had to learn how to create that balance by using healthy communication.

Talk to your people, people. Tell them what is going on. If practice is running long, send a quick message home. If you’re going to practice more than usual, put that out there, too. When it comes time to worry about gigs and maybe a tour, that’s even more important to give as much notice as possible to the people in your life who are going to be supporting you. I look back and realize that I was often using band stuff to escape from real life stuff and that was a no no.

A good way to avoid pitfalls is to just give all the information you need to give. This includes where you are practicing and who will be there and what it is costing you, etc. I have seen unnecessary issues pop up because this information was not freely given out. You’ll find that you are probably going to receive more support from your loved ones if you just tell them what is going on.

For some people, doing multiple bands is a reality. If you are like me, you will get the point where one band feels good, so why not go for two or even three? If you are going to really juggle your time like this, have a plan, and see if you can work it out for both bands to practice in the same room and on the same day. This is the only way that it was able to work for me doing Hillbilly, Pinky, and NSK at the same time. We all practiced on the same day. It was a long day for me, but it meant that I was away from home for just one night a week, typically, unless there were gigs.

If this isn’t possible, make sure you are keeping up with whatever responsibilities you have to the people who are supporting you or they will stop supporting you. I have definitely over done it and overbooked myself a lot in my creative life which caused a fair amount of stress at home. Don’t be like me on this one and keep those lines of communication open.

It’s a strange line to walk, I know. I often felt like the people in my life who were not part of one of the bands got really bored or annoyed when I would talk about band stuff with them. It’s really easy to be excited about, to be honest, and hard sometimes for those who don’t have a reference point to pick up on. Sometimes they may feel left out or like you are happier with the band than them. Communication helps this, too. Talking things out can be a good way to keep yourself grounded, as well, because when you are doing a band, you spend a lot of time thinking about it and making plans that may never come to fruition, but it is still fun to think about.

The reality of the music world is that if you are willing to put time and effort into it, you can get something out of it. Sometimes a lot of things, to be honest, but it’s not worth it if the people you care about on the outside of the band are the ones paying the price.

See you tomorrow.

Who are these guys?

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