Once, I was interviewing my friend and collaborator James Falzone. James is a successful, crazy-busy musician who does a huge variety of things: French folk music, Arabic music, Benny Goodman tributes, decidedly “new-music” miniatures; teaching, performing, composing, touring. I asked him how he managed to do all that … and have a family.
“I married well,” he said.
He told me about how his wife, Deanne, has understood and supported his goals and dreams — and the often crazy things he’d had to do to get those dreams accomplished. James made it clear that Deanne has made many sacrifices in order to support his musical career. But he also told me about their shared vision for their family, and his role supporting Deanne in her work. (Check out her website for the awesome childbirth classes she offers in Oak Park.)
It’s true: an unsupportive partner can derail things big-time, while a loving and supportive partner can basically make a career in music possible. They can share the financial burdens with us (hello, one-bedroom apartment) and provide a strong, secure foundation of love so that we can attempt big, crazy things. My husband Tyler often spoils me by having dinner on the table when I come home, nerves fried after a ten-hour day of rehearsing, teaching, emailing and commuting. He comes to concerts, never questions the endless unpaid hours I put in, and readily volunteers to man the ticket booth, move furniture, and keep things running at Chicago Q Ensemble events. It doesn’t hurt that Ty loves chamber music and is a good violinist himself! I think if I did horseback riding or played poker, he might be less enthusiastic. Score one (or one million) for the spouses!
But there’s another side to this, too. For us musicians, it can be challenging to balance our marriage with our work … because we’re sort of already married to our work. We can never really put in “enough” hours, can rarely say we’re finished working. Sometimes, when I’m at a New Music Happy Hour, having a great time chatting with composers and producers and musicians (in other words, doing really important networking), I realize I need to get the hell out of there because I’ve barely seen my husband in two or three days.
Sometimes, when the projects really start to pile up, I feel like I need to hide in my room for three days: practicing, writing, composing, Tweeting, score-studying — accountable to no one. Who wants to be married to that? Who wants to have to compete with an attractive violin for his wife’s attention?
Not to mention the intense relationships we have with collaborators. When Chicago Q searched for a new violinist last year, we joked that it was like trying to find a husband for all three of us. (Sorry Kate.)
There’s no question in my mind that marrying Tyler is the best decision I ever made. What about you? How does your career interact with your love relationship? Your dating life? Would you rather be a married musician or a single one? And maybe sometime soon I’ll invite the last remaining single (… for now) member of Chicago Q Ensemble, to talk about the perils of musical chairs — I mean, dating.