We had the good fortune of connecting with Reese Burgan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Reese, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I think when most people ask about work/life balance, they’re really asking about multitasking. How can I simultaneously be a good parent/business owner/employee/have a career/etc.? The simple answer is: you can’t. For example, if I decide to practice instead of cooking dinner for my family, I am being a good musician but perhaps also a lousy husband/father. What makes for a good balance is that it’s not ALWAYS one over the other. Sometimes, I’ll choose cooking dinner over practicing instead. The issue I had for the longest time was the guilt. I felt like every time I chose one over the other I was not being good enough at one of those things. Ultimately, I was not being my best self at anything. It might sound callous, but sometimes I choose not to spend time with family so that I can get my work done, or learn some new music, etc., and I fully understand and accept that I am not giving them all of myself in that moment. The reverse is also true – sometimes I don’t practice and spend time with family instead and I accept that I’m not giving my art all of myself in that moment. Somewhat counterintuitively, that has become very freeing for me and I do feel like I’m a better musician, better business owner, better father and husband, and even a better cook! For anyone struggling with these feelings of guilt or incompetence, I would hope they realize that they don’t have to be everything to everyone all the time. That, plus some top tier time management skills, will probably be the recipe for a more successful and fulfilling life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Although my primary source of business is education (saxophone/music lessons) I view myself as a musician first. I am very proud of my support of the arts, primarily through encouraging the creation of new music. Over the years, I have helped to commission and premiere numerous works for saxophone, ranging in styles from classical to contemporary, jazz and electronic works, and even a work for saxophone and lights. I have also published works of my own. I am hoping to bring more of this music to Houston and begin performing again soon after COVID-19 has come under control and it is safe enough to do so. It hasn’t been an easy road to get here. When you work up a skill to a professional level it takes time, dedication, and patience. Often, when one of those things is in short supply, it can get extremely frustrating to the point of giving up. Emotionally speaking, I have hit that point many times but what brought me back every time is the love I have for music and the connections it creates. I’d rather do that than anything else in my life, and at times I’ve lost sight of that but always managed to find my way back. I suppose if I have a lesson to share it’s that you can never forget why you are doing what you do. If you lose that, you must find it again to renew your passion.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, I am a HUGE food lover. So, in addition to all the “must see” destinations of Houston (Discovery Green, MFAH, HGO, Houston Symphony) I would encourage my friends to visit a few different spots: TRIS in The Woodlands is headed up by Chef Austin Simmons and is phenomenal! It’s upscale dining so be prepared to spend some money, but it is well worth it.
My wife and I already have our anniversary dinner reserved! Hop Scholar in Spring. If you are a craft beer enthusiast, you’ll love it! Hop Scholar always has a fantastic rotating selection of craft beers and some really good bar food as well. World of Beer in Katy. Yes I know this one is a chain, but they have great selections and fantastic food. When visiting my friends in Katy this is a favorite spot of mine.
For barbecue, I have two favorite spots: 2 Guys 1 Pit in Tomball, and Corkscrew BBQ in Spring. Both are locally owned, and serve bbq that is out of this world! JINYA Ramen Bar is also fantastic! They have quite a few locations in Houston, and I think they may also be a chain but good food is good food! If you’re into Ramen they do it very well!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
People: Dr. Jan Berry Baker, Professor of Saxophone, UCLA Dr. Masahito Sugihara, Professor of Saxophone, Sam Houston State University Aaron Martinez, Lecturer of Woodwinds, Sam Houston State University Dr. Gail Levinsky, Professor of Saxophone, Susquehanna University Dr. Frederick Hemke, Professor Emeritus, Northwestern University
Books: “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth “Beyond
Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music” by Angela Myles Beeching