Thursday, June 28, 2012

Turkish Baklava and How to Afford to Eat as a Pianist (i.e. "Eating Money")

Piano is a really lousy way to make money.  

In the future, I'll probably do some extended posts on the subject...from how my take-home pay from a week of travel and work (not counting the months-to-years of preparation that is required to prepare for a concert) is less than what most people make in a typical 8-hour how lousy it can make you feel that despite your hard work, many of your peers are off making six-figures.  :P

But for the sake of this post, let's keep it simple:

Piano is a really lousy way to make money.  ...And money is important for things like eating, which I tend to do daily.  ...And thus we have an issue.

So, how do I manage to eat daily?  Click "read more" for more:
In a future post, I will go into detail about just how little a performing career brings in.  But not in this post.  In this post, I want to share a little bit of how I am trying to make some pocket money (especially after moving to New York, where a small thing of Oreos can easily cost $6.49 plus tax.

Why Do You Need Eating Money, Charlie?

Because I like to eat.  I also admittedly like to go out to dinner every once in awhile (while on the road I often end up at a drive-thru McDonald's at 12:30am after landing in some part of the country).  I like to sometimes get an ice cream.  Nothing fancy.  I just like to have the freedom to buy myself...and

Now some people will say "But Charlie, you get to eat really fancy food all the time!" to which I answer "Yes.  Concert organizers and events will often provide amazing meals prepared by five-star chefs from around the world.  But there's nothing quite like a Big Mac."  

Fancy dinner I had (including my name tag, seen at the bottom) :D

The food is phenomenal at such places.  Filet mignon, veal...everything "fancy."  But "fancy" isn't always satisfying.  (The fancier something is, the smaller the portions are, for one).  Note figure 3 below:

Figure 3: Something fancy

Satisfying to me is a big juicy hamburger.  Or rice and kimchi.  Or 삼겹살 (ssamgyupsal = grilled Korean meat).  Figure 3 isn't satisfying.  Cool?  Yes.  Good?  Yes.  But not satisfying.

Also, at fancy dinners and whatnot, you can't really enjoy yourself.  I mean, it is really fun and all, and it is often with very interesting people.  (I was sitting with Ted Kennedy's former wife in the above picture).  But you can't really just sit and relax.  I mean, you're sitting there and you're talking with strangers and higher-ups, and you just can't sit and eat your food comfortably.  Most of the time at these dinners, I end up not eating almost anything at all.  >_<

But back to the subject on hand.  I need eating money to buy food like this:

Turkish Baklava

This is a dessert that a small Turkish deli/dessert place near my apartment sells.  It's good :)

Anyway, the idea of moving to New York was terrifying in part because I didn't know how in the world I would afford to live there.  It is crazily expensive here (Oreos for $6.49?  You've got to be kidding).  But everyone knows I have to have Oreos.  And Cheetos Puffs.

So I figured I would start doing some kind of work on the side for some eating money.

What Kind of "Eating Money" Work?

Ideally, I would like to teach piano.  That'd be cool.  I really enjoy working with students.  But there's an issue: I'm too young to become a faculty member at a conservatory or college, and the parents of young children who just want their kids to learn how to read music are going to take them to the local teacher in their neighborhood.  (I teach occasionally, but not a tremendous amount...most of my teaching is when I give master classes at colleges).

So that's kind of limiting.

The other option is to use to try my hand at tutoring, which I've found more successful.  I am tutoring a few hours per week, a few days per week, which is working out nicely, because it is very flexible and still allows me to practice.  I almost began working at an SAT school in New Jersey, but it wouldn't have been possible with my piano...I would have had to fight traffic for two hours per day commuting by car, and then teach for four hours each day...I wouldn't have the energy to do anything after that.

So, how did I start about the whole tutoring thing?

Craigslist and, where I posted up advertisements continuously since before I left Cambridge.

That and word of mouth.

Am I making much money?  No.  But at least I can now afford an occasional Big Mac.  And that makes me happy. :)

...And now some random pictures from today:

Juilliard's 4th Floor Construction

A DirecTV blimp outside my window

Dinnertime at home!  The Glass House is playing on the right

Talk to you soon, guys!