David Bebe  

Making it Work - Two Musicians, One Life Together

David Bebe
September 14, 2019

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For musician couples, the following article by David Bebe is a must read.David, a cellist and conductor, talks about the complex obstacles that musician couples face when trying to both pursue careers in a highly competitive national arena. He and his wife Jamecyn, a violinist, have encountered these challenges together, living long distance at times, trying to balance their relationship and career aspirations.Ultimately, David offers several compelling points to consider as musicians plan for their future with a fellow musician at their side.

- Stephen Danyew

Making it Work – Two Musicians, One Life Together

By David Bebe

It’s not uncommon to fall in love and get involved in a serious relationship during one’s college years. My wife and I met while both pursuing music performance degrees (myself, cello performance and my wife, violin performance) at Indiana University- now the Jacobs School of Music. Although we were both ambitious and dedicated students, we had no idea where our career paths would lead us and we certainly did not know how our careers would coexist with our relationship.

In addition to the inherent complexities of any relationship, when both people are musicians some unique challenges arise. Since our chosen field is extremely competitive, scoring a well-paid full-time job such as a performer or teacher is a huge challenge. Many of us change our location often in the beginning stages of our careers in pursuit of opportunities, networking, and career building. Basically, we need to go wherever we can get a gig! If one happens to be single, this lifestyle can be exciting and inspiring. However, when two musicians are in a serious relationship and both are pursuing their own auditions and job applications, difficult choices will need to be made. Anyone who has attended music school or been in an orchestral training program has seen this scenario dozens of times.

If the couple is extremely lucky, both find equally satisfying and sustainable work in the same place. As we all know, this is very rare and near impossible. When it comes down to making a decision regarding auditions and job applications, my wife and I found that we had basically three options:

1) You choose to stay in the same place, and both limit your career goals.

2) You both pursue your own individual career paths to the fullest and have a long distance relationship.

OR

3) One person’s career gets priority over the other’s career and you both follow the path of the prioritized career.

Over the course of the last ten years, we considered all of these situations at one time or another. After meeting at Indiana University, I got a job at the String Academy of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. At that point we were living long distance for one year while my wife finished her undergraduate degree in Indiana, a distance of about six hours by car. My wife was then accepted to a number of music schools for her master’s degree, and her decision was highly influenced by our relationship. She chose to attend Roosevelt University in Chicago because it was the school located closest to my job in Milwaukee. This reduced our six-hour commute down to a two-hour commute (better, but still quite difficult to plan when to see each other). Two years later, my wife won a fellowship with the New World Symphony. Thus the long distance period of our relationship stretched out for another year (four years total), this time all the way from Milwaukee to Miami.

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