Being a musician in a non-musician world

arts_struggle of being a musicianQuick PSA on the struggles musicians face

By Julie Wright, Contributor

Being a part of the music scene in Vancouver is a very positive experience. I’ve met good friends and made interesting acquaintances through music. When I find out someone I’ve just met is a musician, we immediately have a stronger connection. I find musicians also get a lot of respect from the non-musical crowd because the crowd can appreciate the time and effort we dedicate to our craft. What most of the non-musician population doesn’t realize, however, is that being a musician can be very awkward and uncomfortable at times, whether playing, transporting, or talking to people about instruments.

During a series of online interviews with the Other Press, high school and university musicians revealed some of the not-so-glamorous aspects of their musical lives, such as the many annoyances of public transit, physical exhaustion from instruments, and the struggle to keep all of one’s music together during an outdoor gig.

One issue the musicians said they often deal with is the struggle of carrying multiple instruments at one time.

Lorynne Machado, described the awkwardness of “being 5’1” and carrying three instruments as you walk home, with a backpack that weighs a thousand pounds from the music you have, and getting weird looks from all the strangers who probably feel bad for you.”

Annaliese Meyer said she has been stuck “carrying a tuba, trombone, and baritone through Sun Peaks—while carrying music.”

A lot of the musicians also shared anecdotes about the inconvenience of transporting instruments on public transit.

“To carry two clarinets, a bass clarinet, a bass clarinet stand, a suit, dress shoes, and an umbrella to a concert hall an hour away by [transit] is definitely not fun. And people think the lives of classical musicians are fancy,” said Seok-Hee Jang.

“Sitting in the middle back seat on the bus with your case in front of you, then the bus comes to a sudden stop and you trip over and literally somersault down the aisle,” said Meyer.

Trisha Caccione said she was not allowed to board the bus because “the ‘large black box’ I was carrying was not safe for other passengers.”

Kedean Varga got “glares from the driver because my instrument is too big to carry but not too big to not be allowed.”

In my personal experience, I’ve encountered situations on the bus where the driver has told me my tuba is “just too big” or I’ve been caught behind slow walkers who don’t understand how cumbersome it is to walk with a large instrument and how my one goal is to get to my destination and put this heavy box down.

Hopefully these struggles have given you a glimpse of the complex world of musicians and allowed you to sympathize with us, the musicians living in a non-musician world.