I didn't choose to have a career in music. I entered the world at a time when music (and culture in general) in America was on the upswing, and because my family was made of musicians and all my friends were involved in music, I saw no other path for my life. I did have intellectual and literary passions as a child, but I always embraced them as a potential amateur.
I wanted to play the violin and the piano as a child, but I never had lessons on the piano, and I stopped playing the violin at 11 for stupid reasons. Perhaps I wasn't any good at it, or perhaps it wasn't something "cool" to do. When I was 13 or so I "retooled" as a flutist. Then, after graduating from Juilliard I added the recorder and baroque flute to my "toolbox" since there was so little in the way of professional work for flutists in America during the 1980s recession, and the "early music" boom was just beginning here. After moving to downstate Illinois and realizing that there wasn't any way I could play any of my instruments professionally, I began working as the classical music director at a college radio station and soon thereafter started writing CD reviews professionally. Then I learned to play the violin again, and soon added the viola (the viola d'amore came later).
Voila! In relatively little time (and relatively much practicing) I had string quartet jobs and orchestra jobs to play. I had a promising musical life. I started arranging pieces for my quartet, and then began writing my own music. I kept going (and keep going).
Around 14 years ago the radio station changed formats, and the classical music portions of the day were replaced by pop music. Being a constant re-tooler, I began work on a master's degree in composition, and upon completing it I immediately began teaching a music appreciation course at a community college. I also had a relationship with a publisher, and spent a good five or six years preparing music I had written for publication.
The community college teaching began in full force. First there were three classes to teach, then two, and for the last couple of semesters, because of lack of demand for music appreciation courses, there was only one. There's a good chance that for this coming semester there will be none.
In my darker moments I feel like I am all musically dressed up with no place to go.
But life goes on, and so does music. I still practice every day, and though the orchestral work is diminishing for me (there are younger people around who play better than I do), I still have some work to do. I have amassed loads of useful musical skills, and am very comfortable with expressing myself in words as well as in music. I'm getting to be a better pianist, and I continue to learn more about music every day through my favorite keyboard composers. I also have my Collegium, where we play Renaissance and Medieval music, my duo with my pianist friend John David, and our community-based Summer Strings orchestra.
Fortunately I have time to continue to do what I love because Michael and I have relatively little in the way of expenses (we make our own culture as well as our food, and have access to a good library), and he has a job that keeps us both comfortable in our relatively quiet town.