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Sharon Bill Music Tutor & Author

A Day in the Life Of

Christmas is promoted as a holiday season, a time to relax and have fun with friends and family. For many this may indeed be the case, but it is by no means the norm. I know that there are many effective adverts that highlight the loneliness that many suffer (although this need not be restricted to Christmas). However, there is another side to that coin.

In order for those who want to enjoy dining out those working in the catering and service industry become doubly busy. Not only do shifts become more frequent and last hours longer, they also become much busier and the delicacies they serve become more complicated as the fayre befits the expectations of the season.  My youngest son used to work as a Sous Chef in a country pub/restaurant and over one Christmas holiday period he worked for over three weeks without a break, each working day lasting 12 hours and more. Obviously he did not spend Christmas Day or Boxing Day at home that year.

Maybe after a delicious meal you’d like to go to a concert or a show? For a musician this time of busyness is the culmination of what has already been months of rehearsal. This isn’t restricted to professionals either. I’m sure that every family involved in the performing arts, or even school concerts and plays experiences this to varying degrees. I remember a time when my three children were in various orchestras, choirs and wind bands. The number of rehearsals and concerts in the run-up to Christmas (and also at the end of the academic year) were so many that meal times became a thing of the past and the local chip shop got to know us extremely well. After each concert you’d recognise families in the queue with children wearing the same orchestral tie and all were wearing the same hungry expression after another long day and an even longer evening packing away instruments and music stands.

My eldest son is playing in the band for a Pantomime in Rotherham headling an X Factor contestant. He’ll be living away for almost three months and playing the same show every day, twice a day. I suppose he will get the luxury of Christmas Day off - no doubt he’ll spend it sleeping!

I hear stories from musicians who play in the prestigious London shows. To get to such a position you have to be at the top of your game. The reality is that you must play the same show every single night, plus matinee performances for months or even years. Every time you perform you must play as if it was your first performance - with the same enthusiasm and vigour each show. For those listening to the show it is probably a very special occasion and has certainly cost them a substantial amount of money. They deserve your best, not a hackneyed rendition. Eating your dinner at two in the morning is a way of life - the restaurants in the vicinity know this and the staff there work shifts to match the musician’s schedule.

If you are able to relax and enjoy a time of festivity I hope that you enjoy this holiday season. If not - you’re not on your own!