We had the good fortune of connecting with Hannah Lewis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hannah, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Once I decided toward the end of high school that I wanted to make music for a living, I quickly fell into the mindset that often plagues creatives: the idea that if you’re not constantly writing, practicing, or networking, you’re wasting time and don’t want it bad enough. While I still of course believe that dedication is required if you want to make a career for yourself in the arts, I eventually realized that this mindset was actually throttling my creativity and passion. In order to be a well-balanced musician and just a happy and healthy person, you have to not only have varied interests, you have to REST!
It took a lot of time and self-work, but eventually I got it through my head that I can be a musician and also be passionate about other things. Plus, not only is it okay that I don’t want to work on music every second of every day, it’s normal! Imagine if an accountant thought that they weren’t a *real* accountant unless they were working on someone’s taxes during every waking hour. It makes no sense!
I pride myself on being a hard worker, and I haven’t let go of that. However, I make sure to schedule time in my day for exercise, spending time with loved ones, me time, and time to simply relax and do whatever I feel like doing. Sometimes I’ll feel like watching the Bachelor for 2 hours, and sometimes I’ll feel like practicing an instrument or writing a song! Allowing myself more time away from my musical work has allowed my mind the space it needs to rediscover creativity in its own time, rather than me forcing it and not enjoying the activity anyway.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Being a professional musician comes with many different kinds of challenges, but I think some of the most significant are the internal ones. As a creative person, it’s easy to get in your own way by constantly comparing yourself to others and feeling like you aren’t good enough. Social media definitely feeds into this habit, as it tends to show the highlight reels of people’s lives and none of their own struggles or insecurities. In an industry where your confidence in yourself and your own brand is crucial, this constant comparison can really take a toll on your success.
Over time, I’ve learned that the only person I should be comparing myself to is who I was yesterday. Plus, every musician brings a unique voice and style to our varied industry, so comparing myself to another musician is like apples and oranges. I’ve learned to spend more time and energy feeding into my own craft, whether that’s singing, arranging, songwriting, teaching, or playing my piano or mandolin.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a Valley girl born and raised, so I love exploring new bars and restaurants in Studio City and Sherman Oaks or even doing karaoke at Paoli’s in Woodland Hills. Plus, the valley has so many amazing hiking trails in Woodland Hills and Tarzana to the south as well as Chatsworth and Porter Ranch to the north. However, other classic LA things I love are going out to the WeHo strip on the weekends, shopping on Melrose, and walking around Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica right by the beach. Some of my favorite restaurants in LA are Tatsu Ramen, Monty’s Good Burger, and Sol y Luna.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I can easily credit my mom with my work ethic. She’s a musician herself, and always showed me growing up what it looks like to spend your life doing what you love and all the passion and dedication that takes. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my piano teacher of 13 years who taught my all of the foundations of music, my amazing high school music teachers, and the many professors throughout my college experience that inspired me in countless ways. Lastly, this shoutout would be incomplete without thanking my therapist during college who helped me establish a healthy work-life balance, among many other things.