I am going to write two more posts in this farewell series and then call it quits. The first is going to be a discussion of why I am leaving music. The second is going to be some final thoughts I want to leave you with.
So why am I leaving professional music? The first and overriding reason is just that my desires have changed. I got tired of doing concerts about four years ago and then got to the point where I was dreading studio work. I have told you guys over and over here on the blog that you need to find a way to do the work that you love. You get one shot at life and in my opinion, you spend entirely too much time working to not enjoy it.
Furthermore, as a Christian, your desires are a primary way God directs you. God does not direct anyone by talking to them. Nor (contrary to how it is often presented) does he direct by asking you to interpret a complex puzzle of coincidences in your life like a fortune teller reads tarot cards. If you are doing your part to follow God, it is a safe bet to pay attention to your desires for an indication of what you should be doing. That is an easy application of Psalm 37:4.
As you guys know, I have had three careers already. I started in software development, then moved to internet retail and finally music. I guess I am just the kind of person that needs that. I always sort of knew that I would eventually want to do something else after music. It is just the way I am wired. My desires change.
The second reason I decided to leave music is that I felt boxed in with no way forward. I have in some respects painted myself into a corner. I could discuss this in detail but let me just put it this way: I felt I had pretty much explored the available repertoire as much was possible without either repeating myself too much or getting so creative that it would drive away my audience. (Here is an example of me getting too creative for my audience.) Professional music is not a very safe place for innovation I am afraid. I knew that if I pushed things in directions I really wanted to go, I would essentially end up starting over.
As an aside, I mentioned in the last post that back in 2017, I was starting to no longer believe in what I was doing. The reason I say that is because I sort of knew I was in a rinse/repeat cycle where I was not offering anything really new. I was also looking at the fact that there are numerous arrangers (many of them pretty good) covering the same 150 hymns over and over and wondering what I was bringing to the table that was really different or significant.
The third reason I am leaving music is simply because I want to free up my time for things that are more important to me. I am a busy person by design but I am doing a lot of things right now to free up time for family during these last few years the kids will be here. I want more time to spend in the basement on weekends playing Madden with my sons. I want to be more available in the evenings. I want to travel with the family; this summer, we are going to live in New England. I can’t wait to show the kids all of the things I love about that part of the world. One of the highlights of my life was the family trip we took to Europe last summer. Those are the kinds of things I want to do.
I appreciate so much all of you that have sent me emails over the weekend, even the “Judgmental Judys” that have not been kind. I will tell you that the notes that mean the most to me are the ones that don’t talk about music at all. They are the notes about the other topics I wrote about on my blog: the life advice, the abuse series, and so on. The reason I love to read those is because that is where my desires have shifted in the past few years. I started to want to write about life much more than music. If I had to choose between doing a piano concert or a public talk on an important life issue, I would choose the latter every single time.
We don’t know the future, but I can tell you that if I ever come back to a more public life, that is what I probably will be doing. I plan on taking a lot of time off but at some point, I may start writing/speaking a bit and in a few years when the kids are all in college, may launch something new. You might wonder why I just don’t try to pivot the audience I have in that direction but the truth is that I can’t. While many of you may resonate with the things I want to talk about, most of my audience will not. I think it is best to just say goodbye and come back later fresh.
So, those are the main reasons I am leaving music though there is admittedly a lot to read between the lines. I could talk about this forever but don’t see much value in it. I do hope that if you are professional musician or an aspiring musician that this does not discourage you. I love the industry and I love the people in the industry. Furthermore, the industry is extremely important. If you spend your entire life in it, you will be doing something of great significance. Just because I could not does not mean you should not.
One last blog post is coming and it will be a fun one (for me). See you there.