What am I doing?
I’ve been meaning to write this blog for awhile but didn’t. I was going to make it ‘private’ (as in viewable only by me), like a whole bunch of other blogs I’ve done lately. I guess I shied away from publishing a blog that was actually about me. Blogs are self-indulgent things though and are meant to be about yourself so I say jump on it. Write about what you know.
I’m sure you’ve all (especially the youngies who read this) been asked that annoying question, ‘so what are you doing now?’ or something similar. It’s not annoying the first time, but the 8th or 9th it gets a bit tedious. Especially if it’s something airy-fairy like music; not a 9 to 5 job or a course that trains you to get a 9 to 5 job. The thing is, I moved interstate a couple of years ago and don’t get home that often. So when I do go home I get asked that question a million times. I actually don’t really mind that much, so much that I thought I’d blog about it for the people that really want to know. So get yourself a cuppa, pull up a chair and settle in for an epic read because here’s the long version:
I finished my ‘jazz music degree’ at WAAPA last year which was a brutal experience but I think it was ultimately worthwhile. Well I can definitely say it was worthwhile for my playing, just not so much for my mental health and wellbeing. I slogged away at it and it pretty much consumed my whole life, but that was the idea. I won’t go into too much detail about the course as most of you either know about it, or I’ve blogged about it before and I just don’t need/want to really. I finished up with my graduation recital which went rather well and I received a lot of positive feedback about it, so it was good to go out on bit of a high note.
Towards the end of the year I was thinking about what to do afterwards. I had already locked in to move to Melbourne once I’d finished. I’d even said to Crommo, ‘you moving to Melbs next year? Count me in!’ My friend Tom (who finished last year as well) was also planning to do the same thing. But as Tom does, he changed his mind and decided to stay on in Perth in 2009. This put the idea into my head (which I hadn’t considered earlier) to maybe stay in Perth. I was talking to a friend (Carrie) about it and a few days later she called me up to say that if I wanted to stay next year she knew of a couple of teaching jobs that were going. I was talking to a different friend about it and she said that there was a room opening up in her share-house if I wanted it. This was convenient as there was only about a week left on my current lease and the day the lease ran out was the day the room became available. Towards the end of the year I was also getting a few gigs here and there.
So basically I thought: If I stay in Perth I’ve got a nice place to live, some well-paid teaching jobs lined up, I’m starting to get more gigs and I know a lot of jazz cats. If I go to Melbourne I don’t have anywhere to live and it’s tough finding places there, I don’t have any teaching lined up and I imagine there’d be a lot more competition for them, I don’t really know anyone in the music scene so I’d basically be starting from scratch in that department. But then again, Melbourne is a bigger, artier city so it might be better in the long run. If I do honours there it could be a good way to meet some people and I might be able to get Centrelink money if I can’t get teaching work. But then again, Perth isn’t so bad and the gigs seem to pay a lot better. I could go on and on about the pros and cons of either city but I think I’ll just leave it at that.
In the end I made the call and decided to stay in Perth. At the moment I’m only thinking ahead for the year and I’ll re-assess at the end of it. Who knows? Maybe I’ll move to Melbourne, maybe I’ll stay on in Perth, maybe I’ll move to Gippsland somewhere and chill out on a farm, playing piano by myself for awhile. Tom being Tom, changed his mind again and decided to go to Melbourne. Good luck to him. I just sent him a postcard.
So I went home over the Summer and hung out with family and friends, then I went back to Perth.
Here we come to the question at hand, what do I actually do with myself these days?
I teach 3.5 days a week and the other 3.5 days of the week I do gigs or practice to get better so I can get the gigs.
Monday and Tuesday I teach full days at a school south of Perth. And also Thursday morning. By the way, when I say teach I mean I teach piano lessons one-on-one. Not classroom stuff or anything. It’s an awesome school to teach at. The facilities, staff, and students are all great. It also has a primary school as part of it so half my students are primary kids, the other half are in high school. The music administration lady actually collects the primary school kids from the class, drops them off and takes them back once they’re done. Those that have done music teaching before know what a luxury this is. You can waste so much time wandering around a school looking for a student. If a high school kid doesn’t show up then that’s too bad and I still get paid. I try to rearrange the lesson for a different day if I can though because I like to be nice but they’ve been pretty good with turning up so far.
On Wednesday I teach at a Jewish primary school, which is just like any regular school except all the boys wear kippahs/yarmulkes. I’m not really liking it there though. The kids are a little bit hyperactive and the facilities aren’t that great and the pay isn’t as good. Typical Jews, they have so much money but they don’t wanna spend it (I’m lookin’ at you, Sheri). I also have to use the person I work for’s program of beginner piano instruction (wow, awkward sentence). I don’t really like it, it’s over-organized which means I’m juggling all these different sheets and I know there’s a lot of holes in it (the program, not the sheets). To some extent, I don’t care and I”ll just teach what they want me too, but it annoys me knowing I’m wasting a bit of the kid’s (and my) time and knowing they’ll hit a barrier soon (because of the holes) and won’t be able to excel.
Some people think that music teaching can be a bit of a cop-out and all your income should come from performance but I actually enjoy teaching and I think I’m good at it. I’ve also had a fair few years experience teaching primary school kids so I’m glad most of my students are this age as that’s what I’m best at. At the end of the day, I’m only teaching half the week though. I like having the three full days and being able to start my weekend at lunchtime on Thursday. I thought I’d just write those first three days of teaching off in regards to how much practice I’d be doing and for the first week I was pretty wrecked by the time I got home. Recently though I’ve been getting used to it and haven’t been feeling that tired in the evenings, so I’ve been motivated to do some practice if there’s nothing else on. I also use one of these evenings to do any lesson planning, etc. that needs to be done.
As for the other 3.5 days, I spend that practicing and writing music. It’s good to not be at WAAPA in that I can practice what I want to without the deadlines and pressure, although I’m still working on a lot of the stuff I was last year. Don’t get me wrong though, I do spend some of these days chilling out, exercising, watching E.R and drinking tea and coffee. I also play a bit of FIFA 08 on my new XBOX 360 (I felt the need to reward myself with my first pay-cheque). I like having the week cut down the middle. First half: teaching, second half: playing. It think it’s better than having bits and pieces all over the week. I like being able to think, ‘right, I have the next three days to focus completely on my music, with minimal interruption/other commitments.’
My goal this year music-wise is basically to get my own group happening. I’d like to start a piano trio (piano, bass, drums) kind of thing performing my originals (or those of other members in the band). So I’m writing stuff to get at least two sets worth of (hopefully) decent material together. Once I’ve written some more stuff I’m going to actually try and get the band together. I’d like to hustle up a regular gig for the trio too, probably playing some standards as well. In the meantime I’m trying to get promotional stuff together: Get some good photos done, get a decent music Myspace up, get a decent website up, finally get some bloody business cards, etc. I’m trying to put time limits on these things as well so they happen sooner rather than later. I’ve always been a bit averse to the naming of bands after yourself and it happens a lot in jazz, eg. ‘The Robin Murray Jazz Initiative’. I’d like to give it a different name and make it more about the whole band. The only problem is that it isn’t as good for your profile and as a jazz musician you’re often working in lots of different projects. People often come to see the musicians more than the band. You often hear questions like ‘who’s playing with him’, ‘who’s in that’, ‘is Robin still playing with him?’ etc. I think I’ll just bite the bullet and name it after yours truly 😛
The other thing with not studying is that for the first time in my life I’m actually earning some decent money. With 3.5 pretty full days worth of teaching and averaging a gig a week I’m doing alright. At the moment I’m still recovering from not earning any money over the Summer whilst having to pay rent for a room in Perth I wasn’t living in. Not that I’m broke, but it kinda sucked up my savings. Apart from the XBOX and some miscellaneous small items, now that I’m earning again I’ll be able to save a fair bit. My first planned purchase though is maybe an upright piano. I had planned to hire one but I think it might be a better idea to buy one. My friend hired one last year for $70 a month. I figure if I hire one for a year, that’s $840. You can buy a decentish one for around $2000 if you’re lucky. The advantage of hiring one is they deliver and tune it for you and when you’re done you can just yell ‘take it away!’ and they will. If I decide to move away I’ll have to sell the beast. I think it’ll be worth it though. I hate throwing money away on rent and I’m happy to keep funking it up on the Rhodes at home (I don’t have an avtualy Rhodes, just the sound font on my keyboard) and sneaking into WAAPA every now and then to play on one of the grand pianos until I have enough money for a cash purchase.
The other thing about having money and time is the ability to travel. It’s something I’ve always been interested in but never really had the time or money (apart from my little jaunt to Thailand in 2007). I think I’ll be able to save enough over the year to maybe go somewhere early 2010. I’m not 100% sure where but I like the idea of South America. I’m really keen to see some of the natural beauty (jungles, waterfalls, mountains, etc.) there. It’s one of the things I loved about Thailand. I’ve also had a fascination with ancient South America since I was young. I even collected most of the ‘native’ lego set. As a result, the opposing ‘pirate’ lego were seriously outnumbered. They did have a nuke though from the ‘future’ lego set so they had a joker up their sleeve there. Anyway, I’d like to get stuck into some serious ruins action if I can. Maybe check out Machu Picchu. I’d also like to go to a place that’s football (soccer) mad, where you don’t get called a ‘wog’ that plays ‘wogball’. There’s some cool music in South America too. I like the idea of going to a place by myself that’s a world away, a bit different and a little bit dangerous.
People always rave about Europe and other places like America (for the jazz) and (dare I say it) Canada and I really would like to go to those places one day (I’m also keen on Japan) but I think that might have to be later in life. Maybe if the trio goes well I could hustle up some grant money for a tour.
I really like the place I’m living at the moment. From the outside it looks a bit like a crack-shack but on the inside I think it’s nice. It’s an old nanna-type house with chandeliers in most of the rooms and a fireplace. There’s weird wallpaper in most of the rooms and weird carpet. There’s also different wallpaper and carpet in every room. My room has a faint floral wallpaper with purple shagpile carpet. Funky. The other cool thing about this house is I have an extra adjoining little room that I use as a study (my desk and piano is in there) which my housemate uses the other half of as a wardrobe/shoe room even though her own room is ginormous. There’s also not much in the way of passageways, it’s just a series of interconnecting rooms. So I don’t have to keep referring to them as ‘my housemate’ I’ll introduce you to them. I live with two girls, one is called Eleanor. She is doing 2nd year jazz vocals at WAAPA. The other is Kai, who is studying Psychology at a different uni. They’re both tidy and cool and not really around that much. There’s no larrikin Blobs knockin’ about to have a kick of the footy, play Adidas power soccer (sweet spot! ha-lay!) and watch the american office with but it’s still OK.
Reading back on this blog, it kind of seems like everything is all ‘hunky-dory’ which is not true really. I just haven’t written about absolutely everything that has been going on (it’s bloody long enough as it is). The other reason for not wanting to make this a public blog is I didn’t want to get comments (in real life) like, ‘your shout, aren’t you rich now? ha ha ha’ or ‘when’s the band happening? I don’t see you playing around the place’ or’ ‘what, don’t have a gig tonight? I thought you gigged all the time’, etc. I always overthink these things so if someone actually says something like this then that’s bullshit and they’re just an ignorant prat. I’m allowed to have goals, everyone should have goals, and things can always change.
I’d like to finish with this photo I took sitting on our front porch. Sometimes, you know, of an evening, I sit there and drink a cup of tea (usually Melbourne Breakfast), watch the sun go down and think about nothing in particular. We even have a rocking chair 🙂 It’s quiet as well because we live at the end of a culdesac (is that supposed to be one word?)
Well if you’ve read this far you’re either my Mum, very bored or just a bit… well… creepy 😛 Thanks for being interested in my life though and I hope you’re doing OK. Damn this was a long blog. Kinda makes up for my long blogging silence(s).