02. July 2005 · Comments Off on When Am I Done? · Categories: imported, Ramble

There’s an article about musicians and retirement. This particular article is dealing with British musicians, and the possibility that the retirement age there may be moved up to 70. I’m not really sure what the “normal” retirement age is here, but I’ve not even thought about how that affects me because we musicians don’t think in the same way as many with “regular” jobs. Some of us retire because we’ve had it with the stress. Some retire because of injuries. Some just get fed up with the income problem or dealing with other (often pretty darn nutty) musicians.

As the writer of the article concludes she writes:

If we do all end up having to work for longer, as the government threatens, we shall need to develop some kind of handicap system that acknowledges the fact that not all jobs are equally demanding. Of course, there are many which are very arduous in all kinds of ways – from heavy manual jobs to caring for the elderly – but classical musicians are in an unusual position. We’re expected to combine the precision of the proverbial brain surgeon with the stamina of the marathon runner. It’s difficult enough to maintain this up to normal retirement age, and most musicians I know couldn’t afford to retire early. Add to that the strain of working in an image-conscious profession where youth gets most of the publicity, and the prospect of ploughing on into old age seems cruel indeed.

What do I think? I can’t think today (Les Mis is hard on the brain!). But I do wonder, sometimes, when I’ll be through with this career of mine. Do I want to be doing this when I’m 65? I honestly don’t know. There are moments when the joy is so great I think dying while playing would be just fine. There are other times when I think I will die playing because the stress is so crazy that I think my heart will finally just give out or explode.

But those of us who aren’t in the major ensemble piece our work together and don’t have exactly the best retirement plans. Many assume they’ll teach after they finish performing. Some go into instrument repair. But many of us sure don’t have good retirement plans through our employers.

Me? I’m hoping some kind music lover out there will say “You’ve served us well. Here’s a retirement account. Please come over and play for me now and then but, otherwise, enjoy your free time … and, for Pete’s sake, do something about your horribly messy back yard!