Searching for my ideal work/life situation has been a long process for me. From orchestral player to freelancer to recitalist, to teacher, to coach, etc. I have basically made a career out of experimenting with shifting balances and jobs until I found just the right fit.

I’m at a point now where things feel right. Ironic, since I haven’t played a live concert in over a year, but that’s for another post.

As we’ve discussed before, a lot of people are taking a good hard look at their current (or pre-pandemic) career situations and feeling a bit of anxiety over…

As a high school musician growing up outside of Chicago, one of the coveted “wins” was to be a finalist in the Chicago Symphony Young Artists competition. After the prelims, you’d stay at home, waiting for the phone to ring with the news that you had been chosen.

From there, the film crews would come and interview your family and friends, and later that spring, as you performed your concerto with the CSO live on TV, the audience watched a mini-documentary about you. …

(This is the fourth in a 5-part series)

The other day I got a nice surprise email from an acquaintance of mine from Boston. This woman was a regular at my concerts. Not a cellist herself, but a huge fan, and she always talked about how she wished she could play. Well-educated, and having had an impressive career, she retired early and did more impressive things. But she had always dreamed of hosting salon evenings in her swanky home and reading Brahms Piano Trios into the wee hours of the morning. …

(This is the third in a 5-part series)

How are you doing?

It’s been A WEEK over here. A week of last lessons, college applications, (more!) letters of recommendation, Christmas preparations, and general wrapping-up-of-the-year type things. Wednesday night I was coaching a quartet online when I suddenly felt a fever come over me and the entire left side of my face started throbbing. So fun.

Have you ever had a toothache before?

I hadn’t either. But oh, holy hell!

I managed to get in to see a Dentist on Thursday afternoon, who gave me the awesome news.

All I want…

(This is the second in a 5-part series)

As we creep ever-so-slowly towards 2021 (seriously, friends, will 2020 EVER END?) a lot of us are thinking about the career curveballs that were thrown at us last year, and are taking a firm stand over putting up with them in the coming one.

The lines we were told in high school (“Practice hard, play well, study at the right schools with the right teachers and you will get the good gigs, the good students, and life will be great”) clearly couldn’t stand a chance against a global pandemic shutting down live…

(This is the first in a 5-part series)

Last week, inside the Tales From The Lane Facebook Group, I hosted a 3-day training on how musicians can take advantage of the opportunities presented by our current circumstances to re-write not only their careers but how they show up in this world.

As leaders.

You see, I believe (pretty strongly, actually) that while we have always known how important the arts are to a thriving society, we’ve fallen into the habit of acting like the hired help. If we were to rise up as leaders in our communities and channel our…

Think of three BIG IDEAS that have occurred to you in your lifetime.

Do you remember what it felt like?

I can recall 3 of mine:

Specifically, 1 idea I had when I was 11 to start a summer camp in my backyard. A 2 ndone was when I was 30 and I had a peculiar and very specific idea of how to grow a scrappy school string ensemble into a really good full orchestra. And the 3 rd, on March 15 th 2020, when I had this strange idea about starting a virtual summer festival for cellists.

I remember the ideas very clearly, and I remember executing the ideas and finding success…

It’s Labor Day!

Hard to believe we have been through 6 months of COVID-19. Take a deep breath, and pat yourself on the back. You have been a total rockstar. Adjusting and adapting to a new work-life, new home-life, dealing with lockdowns, canceled vacations, heartbreak, supporting others, protesting injustice, reading the news (ughh). We should all get an award just for making it to today.

But since we’re here, let’s take stock and maybe think about what’s next for us.

My friend T and I have started a new habit of meeting up in the early morning a few days a week to go for a long beach walk, followed by a swim in the…

Like many of you, I’m not only a performer, but I teach as well. I love teaching and consider it one of my major callings in life, and it was also the steadiest and most reliable form of income I had.

Up until recently, I structured my lesson rates the following way:

You could choose between a 45-minute lesson and a 60-minute lesson. You paid me for that time. Whether you paid for a year’s worth of lessons in September (no one did) or you sent a PayPal or Venmo to me after each lesson (most did). It was just…

One of the teaching jobs I had, while I was a freelancing cellist, was at a private school. I conducted the orchestra and string ensembles, ran the chamber music program, and taught cello lessons.

After a few years of my poking my nose in the Admissions office trying to see if there were any talented young musicians applying, they finally just invited me to stay-they gave me an office, a title, and I was sent in to see the boss and renegotiate my contract. He wanted to give me 75% of a full-time contract. I wanted 80%. 80% would give…


Hi! My name is Kate, and I‘m’ a professional cellist and writer. My blog, Tales From the Lane, is a community for musicians & creatives of all ages and levels.

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