I came across a line from the Talmud today:
A cow wishes far more to give its milk than the calf desires to suck.Since I have been pondering the questions of ethics and stewardship, both concepts that usually reside in the world of religion, this bit of wisdom lead me to think about the kinds of things that musicians need to do in order to feel "whole." We are primarily a giving people, not a taking people, and our happiness comes from writing, playing, and sharing information about music.
People who depend on music for their livelihood usually don't make much money, so giving away the ten percent that tradition reminds us we should is not always possible. But there are ways that we can give the musical equivalent, and feel just as good about ourselves. We can write music for the joy of writing music, we can play free recitals for the joy of playing them, we can help and advise younger musicians for the joy of helping to pass on a tradition.
The problem is that figurative calf. Too much freshly-written music goes unplayed and unheard, too few people go to free recitals because they imagine that something free might not be worth their time, and too many young people who ask our advice, advice that we give freely, don't listen.
Still, it feels far better to give than not to give.