What To Do When Nothing Is Working

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By David J. Hahn

David Hahn
David Hahn
Things have been slow moving since this recession hit, and at times it can feel like nothing is working. Maybe you’re doing the same things you used to to get gigs, but no ones calling and you’re not making as much money – what do you do?

The short answer is “try something else.”

Consider for a minute animals in the wild. If resources become scarce – what do they do? They have a variety of coping mechanisms. Some migrate. Some hibernate. Over time, some adapt. The one thing they don’t do is sit on their hands and just hope it gets better. And neither should we.

I’ve tried a lot of different things since this recession started. Some worked, some haven’t. Here are some of my thoughts.
Try Something Else

There are 5 basic employers for musicians. For-profits (i.e. corporate gigs, cruise ships), non-profits (ballets, symphonies), individuals (weddings, parties), education and churches/synagogues. The first 3 on that list have been hit pretty hard by this recession, and it’s my experience that a lot of those gigs are gone for now.

One of the ways that I’ve been able to survive this recession is by focusing on colleges and churches. I asked a friend to give me a little lesson on organ, and I found a job in the Bronx playing every Sunday. It’s not the Broadway gig I was hoping for, but it’s a good gig for a recession. The Church has been hiring musicians for hundreds of years, no recession is going to stop that.

Next, I found a gig accompanying and occasionally music directing at New York University. I started with just 1 class, and now I play for 5. The truth is that I really enjoy it – in a way that I didn’t think I would. The students are smart and the work pays my bills. Again, it’s not Broadway, nor is a the stadium rock tour, or playing with the New York Phil, but it’s a job that I like and I’m glad I tried something else.

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