Balancing Work/Life When Both Of You Work In The Orchestra Field

If you spend much time in the field, you’ll notice the large number of professionals that have spouses who work inside the business. It’s increasingly common to find musicians married to other musicians, but you’ll also find plenty of managers married to other managers and yes, there are even musicians married to managers.

Adaptistration People 079It’s always a double-edged sword when it comes to marrying someone who works in the same field. On one hand, having a spouse that understands the unique work environment can go a long way toward relieving pressures resulting from not having a 9-5 work schedule.

At the same time, there are potential pitfalls. For instance, when both are musicians, something like a work stoppage can generate considerable pressure on a relationship. And what do you do if one partner is offered a position at an ensemble that may be a professional step up, but pays less than both earn cumulatively at the existing ensemble?

And speaking of work stoppages, imagine the weirdness that exists when one partner is a musician and the other a manager.

Beyond collegial shop talk, I haven’t seen this topic come around very much.

Consequently, when Maureen Anderson reached out to my wife, violinist Holly Mulcahy, and me about doing an episode for her radio show on what makes a marriage work when both of you work in the same field, it seemed like an intriguing offer.

Maureen published that episode this week, and you can stream it at her show’s website: Doing What Works with Maureen Anderson.

No spoilers, you’ll have to listen firsthand. But I can say Maureen did an excellent job covering a wide range of topics, inside the business and out, including maintaining focus on growth and happiness.

Listen to the program at the Doing What Works website

Are both you and your spouse in the field? If so, what sorts of benefits and challenges have you encountered over the years?

And in case you aren’t already aware:

Full Disclaimer Mode: Yes, I Am Married To Violinist Holly Mulcahy

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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