Success is a common theme in my writing.Â Of course, there are many types of success: landing a job, performing well,Â creating a great composition, mastering a technique, getting noticed, going viral, attracting web traffic, moving audiences.Â Yet some artists accomplish many of these things, but still feel dissatisfied with their life in the arts.Â Â So caught up in making a living, they fail to adequately addressÂ a most important aspect of successâ€”personal happiness.Â
Â Typically, the happiest artists: Â
1)Â Â Love the act of making art.Â The demands ofÂ an artisticÂ life are intense, requiring long hours, hard work, and frequent attentionÂ to issues far from the reason this field was pursued. But the happiest artists are so enamored with makingÂ art that all the other stuff is somehow worthwhile. Â
2)Â Â Are creative. The happiest artists find avenues for creative expression.Â Many top orchestral players find themselves disgruntled because of the lack of creative control in their musical life, even though they have a high paying job in an outstanding ensemble. The most content members are typically those who pursue chamber music and additional artistic endeavors on the side.
3)Â Have a varied musical profile. The happiestÂ artists wear a number of hats.Â They perform, create,Â record, teach, write, blog, speak, and/or consult. Â While balancing so many pursuits is challenging, it also provides variety while excising the monotony of just one thing.
4)Â Do more than art. The happiestÂ artists balanceÂ artistic activities with other interests: family, friends, travel, reading, sports, hobbies, etc. Â
5)Â Are part of an artistic community. The happiestÂ artists belong to one or several communities of artists with similar interests.Â Without this, a sense ofÂ isolation often sets in. Â This problem often plagues teachers who focus on art throughout the day, yet have few opportunities to connect with piers.Â Joining an amateur community ensemble or an artsÂ networking club are two great solutions.
6)Â Pursue passion projects. Though mostÂ artists accept work that they arenâ€™t crazy about to make ends meet, the happiestÂ artists pursue at least one passion project. Even when these activities donâ€™t pay well financially (or result in a deficit), they rejuvenate the soul.
7)Â Complete projects.Â ManyÂ artists imagine countless exciting projects, but never get past the idea stage, or fail to cross the finish line. The happiestÂ artists focus energy on one or two major projects at a time, staying focused until the work is done.
8)Â Feel they make an impact. The happiestÂ artists observe direct evidence that their contributions are appreciated and making a difference.Â Teaching, concert performance, and community engagement are all ways to immediately observe the impact of your offerings.
9)Â Constantly continue growing. Beware of falling into an artistic rut.Â The happiestÂ artists are lifelong learners,Â arts fans, and explorers.
10)Â Have enough money. You donâ€™t have to be rich. But the happiestÂ artists are not constantly stressed about paying the rent, credit card debt, and other financial hardships.Â They find ways to ensure a healthy economic profile.
11)Â Are optimists.Â Everyone is confronted with challenges, obstacles, and unfortunate news at times.Â The happiestÂ artists stay positive, looking for the silver lining.
12)Â Are not perfectionists. Perfectionism drivesÂ artists to work hard. But itÂ also causes low self-esteem or even outright depression. The happiestÂ artists love the sacred act ofÂ art music, even with mistakes along the way (as there always are). Â
13)Â Donâ€™t take life too seriously. Though some classical musicians regally refer to their work as â€œserious music,â€ letâ€™s put things into perspective. Itâ€™s just notes and rhythms, not life or death crises. The happiestÂ artists know how to have fun, both in and outside their musical life.
Check out David Cutler’sÂ
Â Â “Hands down, the most valuable resource available for aspiring musicians.”
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â — Jeffrey Zeigler, Kronos Quartet