We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Jennet Ingle a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Jennet, appreciate you joining us today. Are you able to earn a full-time living from your creative work? If so, can you walk us through your journey and how you made it happen?
I have been earning a full time living from the oboe ever since the early 2000’s, by which I mean that for over twenty years I have not done ANY work that was not oboe-related. But to be clear, I have a PORTFOLIO CAREER, not a full time JOB. I perform with a part time orchestra and freelance in multiple others, I adjunct at various colleges, I have a reed business that I started for walking-around money and grew into a six figure business, I run group coaching programs for adult oboists and I also offer business coaching for musicians.
I KNOW that I could have become more financially stable much faster if I had realized as a young musician that success didn’t have to mean achieving ONE BIG JOB that would employ me and grant me benefits. It turns out that success is allowed to look like owning a home, having a family, doing creative teaching work that lights me up, writing and making content, performing regionally, and working from home some of the time. It turns out that success can look like having the financial cushion to take creative risks, and doing so!
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I’m an oboist, an entrepreneur, an author, and a musician’s coach.
I have been a performing oboist since I graduated from the Eastman School of Music. Really, I’ve been a performing oboist since I started playing the oboe at age ten. I am meant to be on stage.
But the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that not every stage involves the oboe. Teaching and coaching are versions of performing; creating videos, blog posts, and emails are as well. Really it’s communication that is my obsession.
My mission is to help musicians to get past the struggle to find ease and joy in their lives. I help oboists directly, both through my reed business and in group coaching programs to work on skills and mindset issues.
I also love to encourage musicians to lean into their own portfolio careers, and their own versions of success and thriving! My book, The Happiest Musician: How to Thrive in Your Creative Career, came out in February of 2022 and really serves as an invitation for creatives everywhere to take a look at their own lives and make the choices that are right for them.
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
FLOW. I find that I live my life in the aggressive pursuit of the Flow state, that feeling where time drops away and I am completely, fully engaged with the task at hand. Being able to drop into that magical state of full presence is the greatest gift of being an artist. Every day there are numerous opportunities for FLOW to happen – in my practice sessions when I can dig into something with just the right amount of difficulty, in my teaching or coaching when I can get out of my own way and let the words flow through me, in my writing when suddenly nothing else matters.
I pursue FLOW all the time, and I find as a business owner that the more I lean toward that joy, the more people respond to it. Somehow, when I can find that zone, the money follows it.
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
When COVID struck, in March of 2020, all performing arts organizations shut down. In one afternoon of emails, my family lost $18,000 in projected work for that season. It was terrifying! We had savings but we had no idea what would happen.
But I had already started running my first group program, The Invincible Oboist, and I doubled down like CRAZY. When it ended, I promptly launched a second cohort. I created a beginner reed-making program, Zero to Reedmaker, and ran that twice that year as well. I created Reed Club, a weekly meeting of oboists who wanted support, accountability, and community in their reedmaking.
I built smaller programs, too – events around oboe articulation, high register fingerings, knife skills – anything I could think of that I could teach, anything to keep the money flowing and my name in front of people.
And it worked. 2020 proved to be my highest revenue year ever, even with only three months of performing. 2021 was even better.
The magic? I didn’t panic. I zoomed out and looked at what I COULD do, since I couldn’t go to work in an orchestra. I thought about how I could HELP other people, people who were stuck at home and needed community and something to engage their own minds, to give them their own FLOW states.
And I already had a portfolio career established. I had a website, I had a name in the industry, I had a comfort level with visibility and selling.
My real message to anyone? Anyone with an idea in their head? Start it now. Start it ugly. The sooner you have it in place, the more easily you can pivot it if you need to!
- Website: www.jennetingle.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/jennetingle
- Facebook: facebook.com/jennetingleoboist
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/JennetIngle
- Other: The Happiest Musician on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Happiest-Musician-Thrive-Creative-Career/dp/B09RJJ3GHW/
Atomic Dolls Photography, Justin Hayford