5 Questions with a Musician: The Beginning
Thanks for reading my first blog post! You're in for wild ride.
I've always (even before the COVID-19 pandemic) had a bad relationship with free time. If I had what I felt was "too much free time," that meant I was doing something dreadfully wrong with my life. That meant that I wasn't working hard towards my dreams or my goals. I'm not sure where that feeling came from... as a kid, I was always busy with school, singing, sports, dance, etc. so maybe it's just that I was raised with limited free time. I'm very thankful for everything I participated in as a child, because I got really good at being a beginner at any given activity (more on that later).
Fast forward to today... as someone whose primary job is teaching private music lessons, it was really difficult for me to get accustomed to so much free time (I'm still not completely used to it yet!) Private music lessons happen in the afternoon-evening (roughly between 3-8pm, sometimes a little later). So all of my mornings and early afternoons are totally free. This feels wrong as a 26 year old with lots of energy and no kids. I kept saying to myself, "What *should* I be doing with my life?" (Spoiler alert: Like many others, I still have no idea).
Alright, we're going back to me as a kid. Sorry for the chronological whiplash.
When I was younger, I believed that my only value was as a singer. I mean, sure, I was ok at school, but music and singing was where I felt like I really shined and that's what I was meant to do. So, as they say, I put all my eggs in one basket. I was very focused on one goal for a very long time. I only saw one future for myself, and that was singing.
After undergrad, I realized that I had a lot of other skills to offer the world, and maybe I should try exploring those. Maybe I didn't *want* the lifestyle of a singer: long audition seasons, lots of travelling, time away from your loved ones... maybe I wanted something a little bit different. I felt myself being pulled toward academia: I have always loved to read, and I loved learning about music history and theory and the interaction between music and culture and all things music. So I got a Master's in Musicology, and I loved it. But did I want to become a professor? I still wasn't sure. Maybe I have career-commitment-phobia.
I started teaching music lessons in grad school to make some money, but I didn't really pay much attention to that aspect of my career until recently, now that I'm teaching lessons "full-time" (it's not a full 40 hours but it is 5 days per week!) I am realizing that I enjoy that, too. Singing is one of the most vulnerable things a person can do, and teaching lessons to allow others to find the joy in singing and in their own personal voice is a true privilege. I would still consider myself "new" at teaching, but I continue to learn from my students every single day, and we make discoveries together. It is incredibly rewarding.
But there was still a voice in the back of my head telling me that maybe I should try to find a 9-5, "practical" job with benefits, stability, retirement, etc. You know, "traditional." Maybe I should work for an arts organization! So, because I couldn't stand all the free time I had, I got two internships, and a couple of months later, COVID-19 happened. So I'm back to lots of free time. I think the universe is trying to tell me something.
Here's what I've been thinking about lately, and it's the basis of this blog series: I have a lot of musician friends and colleagues, and they all have incredible stories as to how they got to where they are today. We use the term "musician" to mean one thing, however, most working musicians I know today have numerous titles and skills and backgrounds. In my quest to build my own career, I have spoken to many musicians who I consider to be role models and who seemed to have "figured it out." They have turned their passions into their life's work. They bring their different skills (fundraising, conducting, composing, arranging, researching, writing, performing, editing, the list goes on!) to one common goal: make the world a better place through music.
So here's what I'll be doing: interviewing musicians that I know (in the Washington, D.C. area) and putting their answers here. Because these are VERY busy people, I'll ask each musician 5 questions that hopefully will reveal the most about who they are, what they do, why they do it, and how they arrived at the career of their dreams! I hope that with this project, I'll be able to share their knowledge and experience with those who are interested, who might be feeling lost in their own careers, or are just simply looking for motivation and inspiration. Though, if I'm honest, I'm really doing this for myself, to see if I can learn anything from their stories, or find a common thread between the musicians that I look up to the most.
Yours in music,