Category Archives: making a living

Life is tough in the big city . . .

. . . as my Peabody friend Donald Collup used to tell me 30 years ago, when I’d complain about something.  Now my more recently-made friend, cellist Peter Sachon (we met in NY last year), explains in a Billfold interview just how hard it is making a living as a freelance cellist in NY.

Peter, a wonderful cellist is a very intelligent, insightful and resourceful man.  Who is passionate about what he does.

Which is great, because if you don’t love it, being a free-lance musician in New York really sucks!


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Making a living making music: how Allison does it

I think I feel a bust of blogging energy coming on, so we’ll see.

Right now (I started writing this on Saturday December 11), I’m sitting in the “Boardroom” of the West Lafayette, Indiana, Public Library.  (What a wonderful thing it is that libraries offer free wireless access these days.)  Why,you ask, is a guy from Greencastle sitting in the West Lafayette library, over an hour from his cozy home?  I’m listening to a violin recital, performed by an array of well-dressed children (most of the boys wearing ties, some of the girls in amazing Christmas/party dresses) playing selections from the Suzuki violin repertoire.  Each is one of the thirty private violin (well, there’s at least one studying viola) students of my ex-wife, Allison Guest Edberg.

And how many guys, even cellists, voluntarily attend and help set up their ex-wife’s student violin recital?  I really don’t know.  But we have that kind of post-divorce loving friendship.  Why we got married, both of us knowing I was more attracted to men than women, over twenty-five years ago is a long story.  When we divorced, though, it was a loving gift to each other more than anything else.  Sure, it was wrenching and there were tensions, but by and large it went smoothly and there’s no question we are not only friends but also love each other.

Allison and her boyfriend put me up last night.  My mother is going to be moving into a memory-care facility in Lafayette (just, um, east of West Lafayette) early next week.   Right now she’s in the hospital in Indianapolis.   I visited Mom there last night, came up to Allison’s, and after the recital this morning I’ll take her to lunch and then we’ll pick out a room for Mom and figure how much stuff I can bring up for her from her house I Greencastle.

The wrenching, horrible experience of deciding that it’s time to move Mom from her home to an institution, no matter how great it is, is something I won’t dwell on now.  When I mentioned what was going on to Janos Starker the other day, he said, “That is the most excruciating thing a family can go through,” and he was right.

We’re all doing a lot of hand wringing these days about the future, or seeming lack of it, for professional classical musicians.  Allison, meanwhile is someone doing quite well with a multi-faceted career.  She has a growing reputation and expanding amount of performances as a Baroque violinist (we’ll call that career 1), does some freelancing (recordings, weddings, church services, pick-up orchestras, occasional chamber music concerts) on “modern” violin (career 2), has a class of thirty private students (career 3), and is the part-time education director for the Lafayette Symphony (career 4).

So four simultaneous careers, or, put in another way, income streams.  I think she has a slight positive cash flow from the house she owns in Greencastle (once our marital home), which she now rents out, so that’s actually five income streams.

It is not a huge living.  But it’s enough that she and her boyfriend live together comfortably, if not luxuriously.  They have good friends they embrace as family, including me. She loves what she does. Sometimes she’s too busy for comfort.  There are occasional professional, artistic, and personal frustrations and tensions. As there are in every life.

Overall, I’d say she’s one of the happiest people I know.

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