9 min 4 sec

Saxophonist Hustles His Way to Back Injury Recovery

When a chronic back injury sidelines an Australian IT professional, he pulls out his saxophone and establishes three new sources of income.
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What It's About

How a back injury gets a man in Australia back into doing what he loves to do.

Business Model
Skills Required
Saxophone & Teaching
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

For some reason, many sax lessons are tedious and boring... Scales, more scales, boring songs from boring music books, some more scales, little black circles and horizontal lines on sheet music, then being forced to practice some more scales.

So Matthew put out his offer of helping students play the kind of music they want to play—any style, any volume up to and including 11, as well as playing by ear and improvising. He made some backing tracks on his iPad using Garage Band to cunningly disguise the musically nutritious requirements of scales with sauces and spices (see Ep. 191) and drum beats and different musical styles to make them taste better.

Putting a unique spin on his offering—like the guitarist from episode 23—Matthew thought, “Why not make it fun?”

Fun Fact

In a bizarre turn of events, Matthew actually wrote his own story for Side Hustle School! If you’d like to submit yours for consideration, send us some info. The more interesting and detailed, the better!

Notes from Chris

Episode 210

In July 2015, Matthew Harding—a late forty-something husband, self-confessed embarrassing Dad to two teenage daughters, IT professional and musician from Melbourne, Australia—hurt his back. In February 2016, he did it again, but this time he went down for the count.

Spending a large proportion of the first half of 2016 lying on the floor unable to move and wondering how long his sick leave payments would last, he had plenty of time to consider his family’s financial future. The discomfort he felt was caused not only by his lower back injury but also by the realization that his payments would likely run out before he fully improved.

Matthew had dabbled in the dark arts of the online side hustle for several years, but very little other than “learning opportunities” had been the result of his efforts. He’d made a few sales here and there over the last few years, but nothing substantial.

So in October 2016, Matthew made the conscious decision to up the ante. He started a blog—MatthewsBack.com—where he began to document his sore back, his “come back” to the land of the living and his side hustle learning’s with the hope of helping both himself and others in similar stages of injury, recovery, side hustling—and removing the need and reliance on full-time employment.

Then, in early January, Matthew discovered the Side Hustle School podcast. Discovering that inspiration was certainly good, but that inspiration combined with action was, in fact, even better, he picked up his saxophone.

Still secretly harboring dreams of being a rock star when he grows up, Matthew has realized that in attempting to fulfill his own dreams, he can help others do the same. And, as an unexpected bonus, this can translate into an income.

Overall, none of the three saxophone side hustles he's created have resulted in massive passive mega bucks...yet. However, they have opened Matthews eyes to the possibilities of what Side Hustling can do—from both a monetary and an enjoyment perspective.


  • HowtoPlaytheSax.com Matthew now teaches saxophone lessons online.
  • SaxophoneTShirts.com: Interested in snagging your own saxophone themed t-shirt? Check out Matthew's offerings on his website
  • Merch by Amazon: The invite-only merchandising program that Amazon offers for those looking to sell their designs on t-shirts

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"Find a passion, then write down or brainstorm as many ideas as possible. Can you teach your passion to someone else? Can you show your passion or make it available to someone else?"
—Matthew Harding #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau