Hey Skint pals,
Money can just be downright dull sometimes, can’t it? Yikes, that’s the kind of sentence that gets money bloggers flogged and sent to hell, but you know what I mean. On Saturday I was pottering at home when Moneybox started on Radio Four. Well I felt compelled to listen to it, knowing it would be good for my general financial health, but Good Lord it was the aural equivalent of eating a never-ending cardboard box. Yet I know some personal finance bloggers who manage to keep it compelling, like J Money over at Budgets are Sexy, who even manages to make compound interest sound as thrilling as whizzing along the Amalfi Coast on a Vespa.
With that as inspiration, I want to tell you about the most joyful £40 I ever made.
The most joyful £40 I ever made
I’ve always loved singing and especially jazz – hah, you didn’t know that did you? We all have our secret passions. For many years I did nothing about it – too busy working the day job – till in summer 2006 I spotted an ad that made my heart jump for joy. A week long vocal jazz workshop as part of the Glasgow Jazz Festival – well, before I could have second thoughts I put in for a week’s holiday and signed right up.
Because a post about singing jazz deserves Ella’s photo.
That first day wasn’t easy. I found myself in a group with singers all way more experienced than me who knew stuff I didn’t like how to count in the band, work with musicians and put a set together . I felt like a total beginner – well, that’s what I was. But the course ended with a concert where I sang one number and I was hooked. From there, I started doing a song or two at open mic nights, travelling miles sometimes to sing a three minute song.
You know sometimes you say yes to an offer then think what the hell have I done? My first proper gig came about like that. After singing a few songs as part of a charity gig at the wonderful Jazz Bar in Edinburgh, I was offered my own show there. Clearly, someone thought me more experienced than I really was. Two months to pull together a two hour set, from an existing repertoire of about six songs! I said yes, of course, the excitement outweighing the fear. Then I got home and thought – oh hell, what now?
Two crazy months
Those next two months, I worked like crazy to pull it off. Knowing what I wanted to sing wasn’t a problem – I’d been gathering jazz songs like a magpie since I was about twelve – but I had to put them into some sort of a cohesive set, find musicians, rehearse with a pianist and grow a whole lot more courage too. I spent hours on youtube watching scores of versions of each tune, taking some ideas, rejecting others and slowly finding my own way to do each song.
The day of the gig I was so terrified I could hardly swallow. I considered calling it off, pleading a sore throat, but knew I couldn’t. People had booked babysitters to come and see me, my name was on the programme, it was happening.
Drum roll, please!
Oh, and what happened? I took to the stage with a whisky and lemonade and three great musicians and I loved it. My performance wasn’t the world’s greatest of course, but it went pretty well. I got an encore, I didn’t screw up, and most importantly I felt as if I was doing something I was born for. Seriously, that’s how great it felt.
The deal with payment for this gig was that it was based on what the bar took. A portion of money would be split equally between the band – there was a pianist, double bass player and drummer as well as me. When we finished the set and sat down for a drink together (best whisky ever), the bar owner came up and handed me £40. I looked at it incredulously. Sure, £40 isn’t a lot of money, but all I could think was: What? I get paid to do this? I’d enjoyed it so much I’d have paid the bar three times that for the pleasure. I kept that £40 in my purse for a while without spending it, tucked at the back away from the rest of the money as a reminder.
I’ve had other gigs since, all joyful, but none have equalled that euphoric feeling I got from my first solo set, and no money I’ve earned has ever brought me the same pleasure that £40 did.
What’s the most joyful way you’ve ever found to make cash? Was it also the most lucrative? Share your story of doing what you love with your Skint pals – let’s get the inspiration going!