Right Turn, Clyde.

So it’s come to it at last. I can’t hide from the inevitable any more than you can stop yourself from using your shampoo before your conditioner. It’s taken some digesting I can tell you… but it is time to announce that due to my health, I have had no choice but to leave my wonderful job.

It is no-one’s fault… I’ve just been seriously unlucky, but this is a game changer. I didn’t plan on being poorly for any length of time, however I cannot avoid the fact that I have Crohn’s disease and that it has not gone into remission for 2 years. The medication means I now inject myself with a strong immunosuppressant which totally neutralizes my immune system, meaning I am going to be poorly more often and the side-effects alone have slowed me to a crawl. Having a boss as such has simply become unworkable, and having me as an employee is equally as unworkable.

“Ryan can you just?”

“No.. loo.. sorry.”

Or

“Ryan have you got a minute to just?”

“I can’t I’m afraid I don’t have the energy today.”

I had over 14 months off work in the end, and that is not fair to them. My employers were and will remain utterly outstanding. They supported me through thick and thin and exercised an amazing amount of patience in a situation which was quite simply impossible to manage. They did everything they could for me, and I will appreciate that forever. In my case though, something was always going to give as long as this flare was active. Although hard to accept, this direction is a blessing in disguise, as it is clear that I need the means to work under my own steam when I am well enough to. I will clearly need some support for when I cannot work (like now)… If only this bloody disease would go into remission, I might actually have a chance of surviving as a self-employed Swiss army-knife musician. What is even harder to accept is whilst currently being ill I now have absolutely no security whatsoever, and I have had to come up with and initiate a plan to try and ensure that I succeed in this rather forced-upon venture of going self-employed due to my bad health. I don’t have any choice. It’s this way or no way.

I’ll be applying for whatever benefits I can to help support me when I can’t work. Right now is the single most important time in my life when I am going to need this Government of ours to finally chip in and do something for me for a change. I’m dubious how this support journey will pan out, if I’m honest.

As I walk gingerly into my place of work for the last time to hand in my badge and keys I realise what a journey the last 7 years have been. I walked in as a bouncy ex-teacher ready for a new challenge. I leave, with a small piece of my heart being left behind. I’ve tried, in my fashion, the hardest I possibly could to succeed at every request, whether it was a huge concert or putting up a poster… I did everything with the same level of attention to detail, and I met some of the best professionals I’ve ever had the pleasure to work alongside. It was my dream job… a unique way to teach from the back-seat, and face a brand new challenge every single day. Before that job, I’d never made a music video, or played drums in an orchestra, or met One Direction, or put my hand in Ed Balls pocket, or donned a Trilby to sing Jamie Cullum.

I’ll take all my amazing memories with me… but what I can’t take is the students.

As the Music Technician I “served” the students at the school in a unique way to say the least. I shall miss all their personalities and shall miss their graduating and will miss seeing them meet their full potential in front of my very eyes. I shall miss them terribly, and dearly hope our paths will cross again one day so I can see how right I was about how ace they are and are going to be.

The people in my department though are friends. I shall miss working alongside them on a level that is hard to put into words. When you’ve mutually fought together for a common aim for so long, and witnessed the talent and skill involved in how they teach and carry themselves… It’s easy to see why they influenced me as peers as much as they have done. They are quite simply, the best people I know at what they do… In fact, I think they’re the best in the business.

A Reverend who whispers when all other teachers shout? A jazz specialist who jokingly tells his students to leave his class if they don’t know who Jimi Hendrix is? A workaholic cellist who inspires more students than soft mick with his comedy? It’s a team to die for… and I probably would’ve, to be honest.

I was really sad for a long while when the realisation had set in that my illness has changed my life. I promise everyone though, not least myself, that I will make the best go of it that I possibly can. I have to think that eventually I’ll be much better off health-wise, especially once I’ve organised a working scenario that I can manage. I am terrified of what awaits around the next corner but, health permitting, hopefully I’ll be able to pay my rent once my projects start taking off. It’s going to be hard work. Well I laugh in the face of hard work. So bring it on.

The first and most obvious thing I can do at least is to hope that the album I’ve spent 2 years painstakingly making, might now come to my rescue and help me bridge the gap to the life of a gigging musician. When I started it I had no idea that one day I might need to rely upon it to pay my rent. I hope when it is released that lovely folks might help me out and share it around and talk about it a bit to get a bit of a buzz going. Hopefully the album will deserve the support I hope it will get… I’ve certainly put the effort in, and recorded it during the positive moments when I’ve felt up to playing guitar for half an hour here or there, but it’s no accident that it’s taken 2 years either. Apart from being slowed down by my health it simply has to be done right. I want to earn my money, and so I’ve tried to make the album as good, polished and catchy as possible to help it sell itself. So far I think it is going really well, and it is sounding exactly as I wanted it to. I just hope people enjoy it more than anything, whether they share it or not, my priority with all my songs will always be to hope people hum them and tap their feet a bit.

What’s the plan, Stan?

Time to get positive.

So I’m starting a small company, which is designed to catch music projects and hopefully provide me with a plethora of different jobs and opportunities to network and even throw jobs out to other people too. I’ve called it Resolution Music Services, and the focus is to provide services to schools and individuals such as workshops, peripatetic teaching, Cubase workshops, and also other project work like remixing, writing for publications, rescuing recording sessions, mobile recording, session work and transcription amongst a few other project ideas. When the site is ready I’ll promote it and get leaflets chucked around and ask then for people to keep ears open for any opportunities going about and to share my company details around a bit to drum up some business, if people are willing to help me out that is ;)

This will support the main job which will be as a gigging musician, and that means getting back out there and building up my stamina again. I have spent a year and a half indoors playing my guitar when I can, and so have developed my intended set and cannot wait to get this new angle aired to be honest. I just need my energy levels to get anything like normal again and I’ll get going. At the moment the side effects are making walking around hard through joint pain and fatigue but thankfully I see the specialist again soon. Right now I can’t play a whole song without putting the guitar down halfway through as it’s too tiring. To get gigging again regularly is the dream. I just hope my luck starts to hold out for a bit so I can make a go of this, but you make your own luck so I’m determined that nothing will stop me.

I also need to plan an album launch, but I’m terrified I’ve been out of the scene for that long that not many people would come along. I need to ignore that and have some faith, but it’s going to be hard. I may need some help if I decide that I need a few musicians to rehearse up a few songs with me. It depends on my health again, but would anybody be up for a gig with me playing my songs I wonder?? Get in touch if you fancy it!

I’d need some pretty big favours too to get help enough to organize it. I’d need a PA, lighting, videoing, recording, a project manager, support act/s, a promotions team, oh and a venue!

Right now it seems WAY too big to achieve such a big launch. I do have an alternative route… I could simply do a solo gig, maybe with the odd guest getting up with me, and focus on the right venue but do a lower key event without all the baubles.

What I need to do either way is try to get some promotion going on the radio and suchlike, and organise some interviews to start letting people know about it.

It is maybe a month off being finished completely, possibly less as only one song is left to record and two others just need the vocals doing… I can almost see the finish line, but I’m not rushing this. Like I said… It has to be *just* right.

So I guess I’m destined for a different journey. I did not see this one coming, but it’s one of those accept and move forward things that I *hope* will eventually benefit my health. It’s time to improvise, but that’s what I do.

Right turn, Clyde.

My first priority, and I do know this, is to get better. I need some time to get back to something like my former health and right now it’s just not there. I do hope I get better sooner than later. I’m going to battle on recording if and when I can, and finish off this album at my own pace, and hope beyond all hope that when I release it at long last, that it gets well received, supported and shared around a bit.

Fingers crossed.

Here’s to a fresh start.

Here’s to making it work.

Onwards and upwards!

:D

Ryan Mitchell-Smith

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