Funny girl cartoon peering around a music stand by Joana Miranda

Seven years ago when I left my job at the Milwaukee Symphony to follow my husband in his new job in New York City, I was full of anxiety.  Foremost in my thoughts was of course…

How will I make a living? 

And that thought was quickly followed by this one…

If I go back to musical freelancing after having played as a member of an orchestra for 10 years, I’ll feel like a failure.

Funny photo of music stand with cartoon girl peering from the back, photo and art by Joana Miranda

Fortunately, life intervened.  Freelancing became the ONLY option, and I quickly learned that it was not only the best way for me to pay my share of the rent, but also exactly what I needed to be doing in order to feel challenged, stimulated AND happy!  Go figure. 

So while I’m not writing this post to suggest that you all take up the viola and move to New York City to join the musical freelance scene, I do want to suggest the following:

  • Go ahead and step out of your comfort zone.  You might find that the areas outside your comfort zone provide new perspective and tremendous opportunities for growth.
  • Pursue your outside interests.  Illustration and music might not seem like they have much in common, but my two passions feed each other and help to give me needed perspective when the going gets tough.
  • Volunteer your time.  There is nothing that will make you feel more worthwhile, plus you might discover even more interests in the process!  In the past four years, I have volunteered on 38 New York Cares projects around the city.  Those 74 hours have put me in contact with other dedicated volunteers and expanded my horizons.  Through volunteering, I’ve gotten to know many more neighborhoods in the city, and the interactions with the people I’ve helped have made the city seem like a lovely small town.

How about you?  What fears will you face today?


  1. Helen Reich says:

    I am very glad that you are enjoying freelancing! Fears I am going to face today (there’s not much of today left) might include practicing even though I don’t want to, getting to bed at some sort of reasonable hour, and since it’s getting quite cold tonight, fear that the furnace will malfunction. There’s no reason to believe it will, except that it happened once or twice in the past.

    • Joana says:

      Ha-ha! I like your fears list, Helen! Hopefully, the furnace made it through the night. Our Milwaukee furnace died on the coldest day of the year….but then again, that’s probably when all furnaces die since that’s when they have to work overtime. Today is the coldest day we’ve had all fall in the Big Apple (38 degrees is the high). It’s been a very warm, muggy fall, so these temps are actually quite welcome. They won’t last long though, because it looks like we’ll be back into the 50s for the foreseeable future.

      XOX – JOana

      On Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 9:36 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


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