As bills don’t pay themselves an income is required, some obtain it by working for a wage, others by starting up their own business and some are so talented that they can make an income out of their hobby. In the Weekly column ‘My way to make money’ we interview a student or a university employee about their job or business and ask them questions about how they experience their work.
This week we interview 28-year-old Spanish Cecila Cotero Torrecillas, a second year European Studies student and a freelance viola player. Besides her passion for music, she likes to jog, practise yoga, cook exotic food and explore the world.
Besides the viola I also play the violin and the piano but my true love is the viola. I started playing it when I was eight. I grew up in Oviedo, a town in the North-West of Spain. I had a careless childhood thanks to my parents. I can remember begging them to let me stop dancing lessons and put me in music school. Over the years I started to get more and more serious and I did conservatory from my 12th until my 17th. Back then I would go to high-school in the morning and to the conservatory in the afternoon. From 17 to 21, I did my bachelor on the conservatory in Barcelona and graduated in Los Angeles and it was my teacher who advised me to start working as a freelance musician.
As I freelance I don’t have to do audition for concerts. Usually I get booked through contacts: someone hears you playing and they call you. The ways I get concerts vary, I can be on a list that a contractor has and they pass it to the orchestra managers, or an acquaintance knows that you are a musician, so they call you to play in a congress, or a friend calls me to be his substitute for the evening.
What a regular day looks like…
As a freelance musician the working environment varies. For example, the last job I did was playing in an open air opera. Before playing, I needed to do the rehearsals which consist of 6 hours during rehearsal days. A performance day would start with a half an hour ride to a castle in Belgium arriving there around 7pm, followed by a warm up and change into concert costumes in the locker rooms. The opera started around 8.15pm until 11.35 pm with a short break in the middle. After changing to normal clothes and driving back to Maastricht I would arrive home around 1am.
The thing that makes the job hard…
In order to stay in shape, a musician can’t take more than 3 to 4 days off from the instrument. Moreover, the endless practicing every day is very hard for the muscles, especially for the neck and back. I can remember times when I couldn’t go out in the morning without a 20 minute stretching session. In addition to these sacrifices, there is no security in music. As a freelance musician I work from project to project meaning that there is no guarantee that I will have projects next year or when I get injured. Also the competitiveness among musicians is high, it’s like sports you just want or maybe even need to be the best, this brings high pressure which you have to get used to and deal with.
I love my job…
Because I am constantly hearing, playing and assembling beautiful music. Although there is a lot of competition, the atmosphere among the musicians is really good; we make a lot of jokes and the interaction and communication is good. Plus, the satisfaction you get from giving the audience a brilliant performance, the adrenaline and that comes from the reaction of the public makes it all worth the effort!
Later in life I’ll be…
I’ll probably keep playing a little to make some money and because it’s my passion, but as I also have other interests and it’s very hard to make a living from music, I would love to do something with my European Studies Bachelor degree which I am attempting to get in my possession. I don’t have a specific job in mind. We’ll see what life throws at me!