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Are you feeling rested and relaxed? Having fun with friends as much as you’d like? Are you feeling fit and healthy? For many of us, the answers to these questions may often be no.

As a freelance musician for many years, I frequently experienced a sense of overwhelm and a lack of balance in my life. I was a professional accompanist (aka collaborative pianist), and as such had an active and varied musical life. I gave recitals with singers and instrumentalists, accompanied singing lessons, played for choir rehearsals, was a repetiteur for opera companies, taught piano, conducted several choirs and eventually also taught bachelor of music students in a major conservatory. I used to fret when I was overloaded with work. I used to worry when not enough work was coming in.

Some colleagues I knew worked seven days a week, month after month, unwilling to say no to any commitments for fear of being short of money, or missing out on a great opportunity. I myself worked six days a week and three evenings, and considered myself lucky to keep Sundays free, a practice that took a lot of discipline. There were always going to be missed opportunities. There were always going to be disappointed potential clients. But I knew if I didn’t take one day a week to myself, I would be heading for burnout. [···]

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