How to Use Your Left and Right Brain When Planning to Work Independently 

Hint: Analytical and Creative Thinking with a Side of Pragmatism Helps

Photo by Morgan House on Unsplash

Tobias wanted to establish himself as an Independent Concert Pianist. Having studied under a piano teacher since a young boy, he went on to complete his bachelor’s degree followed by his master’s degree in music.

He was new to the concert pianist circuit and didn’t (yet, anyway) have an agent to book him work. Could he do this for himself? That was the WorkLife journey Tobias was about to embark on to discover if he had what it takes first to plan to work independently and then perform.

Tobias was confident that he had what it takes to perform well. He was less confident about the planning or the business side of establishing himself as an independent concert pianist. So many people had said to him — you’re a right-brain thinker and doer, you’re creative and artistic, but to establish yourself in business, which is what working independently demands, you need to be a left-brain thinker and doer, you need to be analytical and methodical. You can’t be both. Was that true? That was the WorkLife journey Tobias was about to embark on to discover if he had what it takes to be both a right brain and a left-brain thinker and doer to establish himself as an Independent Concert Pianist — a business of one.

Tobias took the following Four Steps, to first consider if he had what was required to be a Right Brain and Left Brain Thinker and Doer, and then to test this out by taking a practical approach to his theoretical considerations by putting them to the test.

Step 1: Tobias thought about the crucial skills needed to make piano playing his WorkLife, and whether they required Right Brain or Left Brain Thinking and Doing.

Sight Reading: Tobias has the ability to decipher a piece of music quickly, breaking it down into rhythms, harmonies, and tempo. He knows the importance of this skill because concert pianists need to adhere to strict deadlines when learning new repertoire and picking up difficult music quickly.

Rhythm: Tobias has the ability to hold a steady tempo. He knows the importance of this skill in both learning new pieces and adding character to the work.

Composition and Theory: Tobias has the ability to improve and write music on staff paper. He knows the importance of understanding how harmonies work with one another.

Technique: Tobias has the ability to execute a chromatic run to perfection. He knows the importance of technique in capturing the attention of the audience.

Tobias believes all of these skills require both: Right Brain Thinking and Doing — a creative and artistic approach, and Left Brain Thinking and Doing — an analytical and methodical approach.

So, could it be said he is both a Right Brain and a Left Brain Thinker and Doer, and he has what is needed to establish himself as an Independent Concert Pianist?

The proof of that, Tobias believed, was in the booking of and the performing at concerts.

Because Tobias is a pragmatist. He deals with things in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

Step 2: His Next Step was to First Book and then Perform at Concerts.

Tobias had already developed a concert programme. He knows the importance of having a compelling recital programme. He had curated a programme based on what audiences are drawn to hearing. He had filmed a promotional video, which was ready to send. He had also created a professional press kit that lists all his accomplishments. He had professional photographs taken. And he had recorded a CD which was available for sale.

Tobias was ready to contact venues and promoters. He knows without artist representation, he could expect to get turned down by larger venues. He also knows he can build a resume through smaller options, such as church concerts, music festivals and private recitals. And he knows that they will help build significant performance experience and credibility.

So, this is where he started, and within a matter of weeks, enquiries began to come through.

Step 3: His Next Step was Negotiating Artist Fees.

Tobias knew as he was just starting out with church concerts and a series of small venues, it was a good idea to do a donation-based concert. Because the venue is offered for free and the artist performs and collects donations. This makes it a low-risk method for booking concerts, and most of the pressure falls on the host to produce an audience.

Tobias knows that future negotiations would vary between promoters paying him as the artist an upfront fee and collecting sales on the backend. Or him as the artist collecting a percentage of those sales as well, which meant he would need to pay some sort of venue fee to rent the recital hall, giving him access to the piano and stage manager.

Step 4: His Next Step was Promoting via Social Media, Website and Word Of Mouth

Tobias knows once the concert is booked, it is time to promote himself. He shared his concert dates on social media and posted it on his website. He also shared by word of mouth and asked everyone he knew to do the same. He knows the importance of keeping his profiles up to date to help make him look active as a concert artist no matter what stage of the process he is currently in.


Tobias has successfully begun to establish himself as an Independent Concert Pianist. The booking of and the performing at concerts has allowed him to practically put his theoretical considerations of being both a Left Brain and a Right Brain Thinker and Doer to the test. He passed with flying colours.

His next steps?

Well, being the pragmatist he is, Tobias has further considerations to think through, and then as and when appropriate to test them out. These include:

Acquiring Artist Representation: Someday, he may want to acquire a personal agent or a full management team.

Entering International Competitions: To provide exposure to him and his work.

While all the time continuing to promote himself on YouTube and Social Media to grow his audience of followers. And expanding his repertoire and networking within his industry.

Words of Wisdom

Tobias believes having put his short-term WorkLife plan into play (his one to two-year plan), he now needs to adopt a patient approach to his long-term plan (two to five years and beyond) by setting realistic goals to achieve his next steps. This will allow him to be selective about where he will spend his time and energy to best position himself for success.

Tobias knows building his brand will take time. He knows that it will also take time to build his WorkLife. He knows the importance of having several small milestones on his way to becoming an exceptional concert pianist.

That’s all OK because Tobias knows he is in it for the long haul. After all, this is a long term WorkLife project.

Four Steps To Considering How You Can Use Your Right and Left Brain When Planning to Work Independently Assignment

Step 1: Think about the crucial skills needed in your WorkLife, and whether they require Right Brain or Left Brain Thinking and Doing.

Take a pragmatic approach to your theoretical considerations by following the remaining three steps:

Step 2: Carry out whatever your equivalent of “First Book and then Play at Concerts” is.

Step 3: Once you have your first booking, Negotiate your Fee.

Step Four: Promote via Social Media, Website and Word Of Mouth.

As with Tobias, these combined steps will allow you to know if you have what it takes to be both a Right Brain and a Left Brain Thinker and Doer in establishing yourself to work independently in your field of expertise.

This story was inspired by: How To Become A Concert Pianist by Joshua Ross.


As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times.

The focus of my work begins by helping people identify a WorkLife path that’s true to their core values, purpose, and motivation. This is followed through by creating meaningful short and long-term WorkLife plans while enabling self-coaching, self-directing, and self-leadership to drive these plans.

I bring you stories created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow.

Whatever you want to do, there is a clear path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to get started. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to get started. The motivation to follow your vision.

I created The School Of WorkLife book series to help people continuously fine-tune their learning, development and growth in the areas most important to them. Click on the series to see all the books available and previews of what’s inside each book.

How To Plan Effectively Professionally and Personally is book 10 in the series. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.