A reader writes:

I have a parallel career as a professional musician and as a piano teacher, and the difference between the two couldn't be more pronounced.

As a musician, I've gone from playing maybe five or six gigs a week, and frequently playing two or three gigs in one day -- in restaurants, bars and at weddings, as well as the occasional jazz club and concert hall -- to doing one or two a week at most. It seems to be getting worse too; not counting holidays, last week was the first time in 7 years that I haven't played a single gig all week.

On the other hand, with my teaching, I've never been so busy.

I've lost one adult pupil -- he works as a plasterer and lost his job when the construction industry tanked last year, so can't afford lessons at the moment -- but apart from that I've had more inquiries from parents to teach their kids than I can deal with. Interestingly, I've found a lot of musicians (myself included) are taking the extra time they suddenly have as an opportunity -- to practise more, to record, to work at promoting themselves and their bands or to compose, i.e. to do those things we put off when the diary is full of work. Similarly, the plasterer I mentioned above has spent his spare time doing up his house and studying jazz theory.

I imagine I'll come out of the downturn in a much better shape musically, and with a lot more energy (gigging 6 nights a week is quite draining).

(Photo: a ground-floor look at a job fair by Spencer Platt/Getty.)

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