Friday, April 27, 2012

Fortune Favors the Bold

It takes some work to get yourself out there and go for things that you want. It isn't always easy to get noticed for your hard work and to be recognized as the person who would be best for a job. Honestly, when you make mistakes, it's even harder to prove yourself because there are plenty of people who will focus on one thing you did wrong and let every other redeeming quality go unnoticed.

I'm not saying that I give a perfectly unbiased opinion all the time. When people make serious mistakes, I think they should be held accountable. But I really like to give people more credit and usually more respect than they always deserve. In general, there's a good reason for somebody's mistake or slip-up.

I really respect the people in my life (both my peers and teachers) who can let go of failures. I'm here to tell you that I've slept through alarms and missed classes before. I'm nowhere near perfect, and the first impression that some people got of me was that I didn't do work and was lazy--that I didn't care. Anybody who truly knows me knows that I hate unpreparedness, I'm almost always early to everything, and I hate not doing work. I need a list and a plan, and there's no way around that most of the time. If you've taken the time to get to know who I am beneath the surface, you know that I'm not actually that quiet. I have opinions, and they're rather strong most of the time. I'm so incredibly driven to be the best at everything I do, and I won't accept anything but my best all the time. I beat myself up over amazing performances that just aren't my best. I'm not afraid to tell most people how I feel about the majority of things in life, and I've come out of my shell a lot since when a lot of you first met me.

Being that so many people have looked beyond my failures, I can do really great things. From being asked to accompany the University Choir on flute, to being asked to play on the Spring Honors Recital, I've been recognized as a strong player and musician by the music faculty. I get requests to play in pits and orchestras for local productions all the time. I'm always asking to do something new, and I love pushing myself into things that I'm not comfortable with now.

For instance, coming into college, there's no way that I would have been comfortable singing for anyone, much less in public, but just joining choir and Surround Sound has taught me so much about choral music and has led me to consider a vocal ed major rather than instrumental a lot of the time. I'm honestly still considering it, and to anybody reading this who has an advice, please tell me how you feel about it.

My peers generally recognize this too, as they just elected me as the new Student Director of Surround Sound, essentially leading the group in musical aspects. I can't describe how excited I am to be able to lead a group and make great music. It's going to be an incredible experience.

I guess the point of this blog is doesn't take that much to put yourself out there to be noticed. It really isn't difficult to set yourself apart from other people and be the person that people want to work for them. All these opportunities have really encouraged me about life and I feel pretty good about my growth. I know that I it isn't that hard for me to go out there and try for things, and sometimes, that little bit of effort is all it takes to find something amazing.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


There are a lot of people I go to school with that are professional. From the standpoint of the music department, they're the people who don't text through their rehearsals and screw around and blatantly act like a fool in front of the people who hold their future in their hands. That's at least the bare minimum of professionalism.

But those people who get out there and learn their music better than anyone else are the ones who know what it takes to be great. There are plenty of us who just learn things until they're right. Practice really is just beginning when you get the notes down correctly. Practice is about learning it right and then doing it right in repetition until you can't do it wrong. Even then, mistakes are bound to happen.

There are also plenty of people who show up to performances with no time to warm up or be truly prepared. It takes me plenty of warm up and time for mental preparation to feel like I'm ready to go out and give a good performance. It takes me a solid 20 minutes most of the time to warm up and get "in the zone" sometimes, but how can you expect to just show up and wing it?

It bothers me to no end when people just blow off their responsibilities to an ensemble. When they refuse to focus and text for whatever reason it may be. I think the worst thing about these people is when I see music majors who just don't care for their ensemble at all. It's crazy that you'd blow off an ensemble that you want to teach one day. Yeah, I understand that if you have given excused absences and it's approaching finals and that's  your best time to study, maybe you need to. Yeah, things come up. There's just no excuse for talking and texting in band or choir or anything like that. It's rude to your director, to all of your peers, and you're not going to learn anything, my friends. Why do it?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Change: Life, The Future; What am I doing?

I'm pretty seriously considering changing majors. I'm still sure I want to stick with music, but I'm not entirely sure what I want to do. I really need to sit down and talk to some people and figure out what my options are.

Throughout the last year and semester, I've been considering switching to a vocal ed major. I've learned so much in choir and enjoy learning about choral music so much more than band. The experience that choir has given me is incredible, and I feel like I'm learning at an incredible rate, and it really has awakened a new passion for choral music.

At the same time, I still feel like teaching college would be a good option for me. I haven't closed the door on double majoring in Theory and Performance, then going on to get a masters and doctorate in music and teaching college, but after all the talking and preparing and thinking about teaching high school, I'm not sure what I should do anymore.

I've constantly said that getting a theory or performance degree is pointless. I naively thought that everyone should pursue an ed degree because you take essentially the same classes but you get licensed to teach and have a modicum of job security when you graduate. You can pursue a performance career without a music degree, as well as going on doing graduate level work to teach theory.

The thing is, I don't have time to do all the things I want to in school. There isn't time for me to take all my music classes, take all more cores, and be in Wind Ensemble/Concert/Marching Band, Choir, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Chamber Singers, voice lessons, comp lessons, and smaller ensembles. To pursue an ed degree and graduate in four years, while not limiting my musical learning and experiences in ensembles and lessons, (and getting a reasonable amount of sleep every night), I'm going to have to take cores over the summer anyway.

Switching to a Theory/Performance major, I can eliminate the ed classes and take all music classes at AU during fall and spring semesters, while taking online/hybrid summer classes to knock out my cores. This not only is going to allow me to focus on music all year, but it will free up my schedule and let me keep working hard and learning more musically. I can take secondary lessons all the time, pursue choral music more seriously, and take musical electives like conducting, for the sake of expanding my musical knowledge.

Whatever happens, cores are hapening over the summer. The only real question left is to switch from ed to Theory/Performance. In the course of my life, this is a really weighted decision, leaving me at a fork of deciding whether or not to teach high school or college. Honestly, I could pursue a performance career with flute. I've gotten to the point that I'm really good and getting better isn't huge technical problems in my playing. Getting better is the little things that make you more musical now: how to breathe perfectly, how to phrase, fine-tuning tone and vibrato and getting better. Yeah. That performance career would require a $10,000 flute. A bit ridiculous, really. But compared to the price of getting a doctorate in theory, is it that bad of an investment? Sure, a performance career would suggest getting a masters in performance. But I'm already learning from the best. I could feasibly be the best if I dedicate my life to it.

I'm at this mental block where I think that what I do is directly influenced by my personality. A teacher is selfless. They're dedicate and almost always seem perfect. They know almost everything in their field and can answer students questions. They help students grow and don't dwell on being the best.

Being a performer means being the best. I think some part of me thinks of professional performers who make careers out of it as cut-throat people who spend 18 hours a day in a practice room. They step on the little people and are jerks. At the same time, almost every music teacher at AU is in Cleveland Orchestra, ASO, Wooster, CJO, or some other professional group. And everybody here is incredible. They're great musicians and incredible teachers who go out of their way to help.

Whatever I do might not be linked to my personality, but I still don't know what I can do, or how I can do it. Regardless, to make a living, it means adding something on the side. Opening up a flute studio to teach from, or composing, or recording, or any number of things to supplement a musician's income.