As a violinist, there are periods when I have a lot of work, and periods that are more unstable. During the academic year, I play in orchestras around the New York area including the Chelsea Symphony. Occasionally, I also pick up gigs with groups around the New York and Connecticut area including the Wallingford Symphony and the Gateway Classical Music Society.
I also participate in a Suzuki violin teacher training program twice a week at The School for Strings in Manhattan. My work includes one day a week of coursework and another day of teacher observation training. This training includes observing 5- to 10-year-old violin students and writing papers on violin teaching methods.
In addition to my music career, I supplement my income by writing on a freelance basis for online publications.
During the summer, my income will be a bit more unstable since most orchestras and performing groups are on break. Over the summer, I will either write full time or teach violin lessons. Still, I plan on finding ways to cut costs, supplement my income and survive the economy.
The cost of living in Manhattan can be a drain on the wallet. Even the highest income earners find their savings depleted on rent, food, retail items and metro cards. Having a social life can also be expensive. One night of dinner, drinks and dancing in Manhattan can run up to several hundred dollars. On top of that, I have to set aside funds for my violin studies, including lessons, instrument repairs, music and supplies.
Still, I have found ways to meet the costs of living in Manhattan while enjoying a balanced life of work and play. I have discovered coupons and Dollar Stores where I have saved tremendously on groceries, stationery and household items. I am still able to enjoy organic fruits and vegetables by purchasing from local farmers markets in Lincoln Center and Union Square. This recession has motivated me to learn to cook. Eating at home has tremendously decreased my food bills.
As for recreational expenses, I find ways to go out without breaking the bank. Instead of dinner at the most upscale restaurants, I attend house parties or matinees. Instead of paying full price for concerts at Carnegie Hall or with the New York Philharmonic, I have joined a classical music group on meetup.com. Not only am I able to attend concerts for discounted prices, but I am also able to make new friends who share similar interests.
Finding Other Opportunities
Although I would like to be earning more money as a violinist in New York, I have taken the recession as an opportunity to branch out and to cultivate my other interests. One of the greatest benefits has been the development of my freelance writing career. Recently, I’ve written about arts, politics, news and lifestyle. I’ve also enjoyed writing about classical music, sharing my passion with a larger audience.
In addition to writing, I’ve found small ways to pick up extra cash. Local schools such as Columbia, NYU and John Jay College often run research studies. I earn between $10 and $50 filling out psychology surveys or participating in mock trials. I have often found these studies through Craigslist ads and fliers around Union Square. While these studies may not pay very much, a little bit of cash goes a long way in this economy.
Keeping a Positive Attitude
While it may be tempting to become disheartened in this economy, I have found it helpful to keep a positive attitude. While I would like to find more opportunities in my music career, I am hopeful that things will work out in their own time. Surviving the economy has made me a stronger and more resourceful person. As seen with my writing endeavors, money-saving strategies and research studies, opportunities come when you least expect them.