This is a tough time to be a musician; the days when school music programs were well funded and orchestra jobs were easily obtained are gone. Fellowships, grants, subsidies and paid internships are tenuous situations at best. It sounds pretty bleak, right?
So assuming you aren't independently wealthy, what are you supposed to do if you want to pursue your dream of working in music? You find a way to subsidize yourself. You get yourself a side gig.
Listen very carefully to what I'm about to say:
There's no shame in working outside your field to support yourself.
I used to think there was. The truth is, I've worked at a restaurant full time for the last three years to subsidize my musical pursuits. Life isn't cheap, and it's important to me to be a responsible, independent adult. I didn't want to move back home to Vermont after graduating from my master's program; as much as I love the place where I grew up, moving back there seemed like it would be a waste of all the time and effort I had spent building a studio in the Boston area.
So I looked around for a side job that would still allow me to grow and pursue my ambitions. Since I work at the restaurant at night, I have all day to plan lessons, write and edit blog posts, and work on my long-term projects, such as The Conservatory Boot Camp Workbook and Deconstructing Andersen. I found a job that pays the bills and provides health insurance without stifling my musical needs.
But it took me a long time to get over the shame of being a flutist who graduated and went on to wait tables. Even though I have a lot going on musically, I thought that a waitress was all that I really was.
I've had conversations with lots of my music-school friends in which they admit a similar sense of shame or a need to keep their non-musical job a secret for fear of being judged. I feel that this secretive guilt is not necessary, so I'm taking the first step by coming out as a full-time worker in a job outside of my field. I will not be ashamed of supporting myself and I don't want anyone else reading this to feel that way either. Responsibility is never a fault.