Finding Balance as a Professional Musician During the Holidays

by Kimberly Arnold

As we lead into the two busiest months of the year, I thought it might be a good time to make a plan regarding our “yeses” and “noes” for holiday entertainment this year. We all have opportunities come our way: some out of tradition (you’ve performed at this event for the past 7 years), some out of loyalty (how do you say no to Aunt Sally?), and some out of sheer excitement for the performance opportunity. But where is your balance between professional life and personal life? Last year I reached a point of making myself utterly sick on the day that I had two performances lined up. I had booked myself solid with performances the two weeks previous leading up to that particular day and I wore myself out. I still think about the fun opportunities I missed because I overbooked myself on events that held less appeal.

So what are some ways to help guard yourself against burn-out on performances this holiday season?

  1. Be intentional with your schedule. If you do not set boundaries now, your schedule will be out of control before December even arrives. Decide how many performances you want to allow yourself to schedule and stick to it! As musicians, we get referrals to be holiday entertainment for events and some of those referrals are worth accepting, while some of them are worth letting go. Do not feel that you have to agree to every event you are offered. Be discerning and be decisive.
  2. Build in time for friends and family. Musicians can get so involved with their art during the holiday season that their friends and family suffer. Make sure you stay involved in the happenings of your loved ones. Before agreeing to performances, make sure important dates of your family members are on your calendar. This will alleviate stress and guilt in the long run!
  3. Make time to have fun. When our schedules only vacillate between work and performances, our optimism tanks and we can get tunnel vision with all of our commitments. Plan shopping trips, grab coffee or brunch with a friend, take time to watch your favorite Christmas movie...just put it on your calendar so you don’t forget to have some fun this holiday season!

From one musician to another, let’s commit to enjoy this season and all the performances we schedule. Be intentional in your yeses and noes and celebrate with friends and family often!



Kimberly Arnold has taught private piano for over eighteen years and has taught in the music classroom from preschool through college. She currently resides in Oklahoma City where she teaches privately and at Mid-America Christian University. Kimberly holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Piano Performance from Southern Nazarene University and Master of Music in Music History from the University of Oklahoma. She can be reached at