Friday, December 21, 2012

Tough questions.

Hi everyone,

It has been a crazy few weeks with a whirlwind of activity going on in my life.  I attended the El Sistema Symposium in the first week of December and we put on our first concert at St. Anne's!  In between all of that I did two interviews that will be posted soon and have been plenty busy with other musical things!  It's always nice to be busy doing things I love.

The first interview I did was with Ben Zander and the other was with Peter Seymour of Project Trio.  Those will be up as soon as I receive the OK from both of them to post on here.   It's amazing how long it takes to type those things out!  They will be posted as soon as I receive the OK from Ben and Peter to post.

But anyways, I've been doing a lot of thinking the past few weeks about some of the projects I've been working on and some of the projects that I have on my to-do list.  We had an amazing crowd at our first concert at St. Anne's of around 225-250 (which was totally awesome!), but moving forward with this series I have really been trying to identify is why people should care about the work we're doing.  I am very fortunate to have several people in my life that I can go to for guidance on these kinds of things and every single one of them immediately asked "what makes you different from any other performing art group in Philly?"

We're different because we want to directly engage with the surrounding community in anyway we can.  This time we had the church choir and audience singing along with the orchestra.  The challenge moving forward is how to maintain an active working relationship with members of the community in every concert or event we put on.

This community could totally just go downtown to the Kimmel Center and see the Philadelphia Orchestra any given weekend.  But why don't they?  People come from all over to see the Philly Orchestra perform, but there are millions of people that live in Philly that have never even seen an orchestra.  Why should those people come to our performances?  Why should anyone come to ANY performance?  It's certainly a difficult thing to articulate.

I would love to say I've got this all figured out and post our mission statement and vision here, but unfortunately that is still in the works.  I have really been wrestling with these thoughts a lot in the past few weeks but I'm slowly getting some clarity to everything.  But I think it's great to think about and hopefully this inspires some of you to question things yourselves.

Personally, I feel that being a musician doesn't really mean anything if you're not making positive contributions to the world and the people living in it.  True artists make impacts on the communities around them.  What can we do to make our work meaningful?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Got a question? Just ask!

Hi everyone,

Two quick things in the post.


In the past couple of days, I have been having a lot of really great encounters with my friends, colleagues, and mentors.  I just wanted to take a quick second and reflect on something that never ceases to blow my mind.  It's something that is so obvious and simple, but often gets either overlooked or ignored by people because they're afraid to do it.  What I'm talking about is when you have a question....just ask it!

My partner and I have been putting a ton of work in to this upcoming concert we're putting on to promote the brand new concert series we're starting in the Spring (click here for info!).  Since this the first time either of us have done anything like this, we both have oodles of questions and concerns as the concert draws closer and closer.  It is absolutely amazing the amount of advice, encouragement, and resources that can be attained by just admitting you don't know everything and just asking a question.

One of the biggest challenges we're facing with this new project is getting the community to come out and support our event.  I decided a few weeks ago that I was going to need a lot of help from members of the community to make this event a success.  So we started by asking people we know in the community for advice on where to start and got to it.  We took a stack of flyers (which were free and professionally printed because we asked for help) and hit the streets.  Together we probably hit about 15-20 local businesses and go to talking with the owners and people we met in the process.  Some people hung the flyers in the windows, some took them pass out, others totally blew us off (bummer), and one person even donated to the concert series on the spot!

This "just ask" approach has worked for me every single time I've needed some advice or guidance.  Whether it's audition tips, fund-raising advice, or just trying to figure out directions in a new city, it almost always works (or at least gets you comfortable asking!).  We all secretly like when people come to us seeking advice, so don't hesitate to reach out to others for help!

Second thing (it's short, I promise):

Starting next week, I will be doing a regular interview series with exceptional people that have created their own unique careers by doing things a little bit off the beaten path.  I'm super excited to announce that my first interview will be with the conductor, educator, speaker, and best-selling author Benjamin Zander!  If you're not familiar with him, I highly recommend you check him out.  Information about him can be found HERE.

And by the way, I got this interview scheduled by just asking.  He will be speaking at the El Sistema Symposium next week here in Philly (while I'm linking things, here's that info).  I'll be interviewing him on Monday morning before he delivers the keynote address at the conference.  So look for that sometime next week.

Anyways, I'll close it up now.  Just remember if you've ever got a question or wonder how someone got where they, don't be afraid to just ask.  Connecting with people is an awesome thing.  After all, the worst thing that can happen is that they'll say no, or just blow you off.  It happened to me like 10 times last week as I was hustling around town promoting this concert.  If I can take the rejection, so can you.  It's not so bad, I promise.

Until next time...


Friday, November 23, 2012

Rethinking the Concert Experience.

It's pretty crazy how sometimes out of nowhere a conversation can make a tremendous impact on you.  A few years ago I was starting a new job and in my first couple of weeks I did a lot of explaining what exactly it is that a music student does all day, let alone what I was planning on doing the rest of my life.  So I was talking to one of my coworkers (who I'm still friends with, and wouldn't even remember this conversation) and we got to talking about music.  While we were talking, he mentioned to me that he loves listening to classical music and would love to go to a concert, but would never consider going to a concert!


That blew my mind.  Of course I had to ask why and he proceeded to explain and give the same reasons many non-classical music lovers give as to why they've never been to see a live performance of the local orchestra.  This conversation made a totally unexpected impression on me that has stuck with me ever since.

This got me thinking about why classical music so unappealing to so many people.  I have come to a lot of different conclusions over the years, but for now I'd like to just focus on just a few ideas that I have had about what organizations can do to not only welcome new concert-goers, but make the entire experience more engaging and inviting for the entire audience.

Before you get to your seats
Most of us probably don't even realize that how much we've already gone through before the concert even starts.  Waiting in line to pick up your tickets, finding the door to your section, looking for the coat check/bathrooms, physically find your seats and anything else that can happen are all things that all go in to the experience.  I have been to some events where the process has always been smooth and comfortable.  But on the other hand, I've also had a lot of bad experiences with ushers, people in the ticket windows, or not knowing exactly where to go.

Not everything that goes in to the concert experience is in the hands of the orchestra.  But what if more of it were?  I think we've all had to deal with a douchey usher at some point or another when asking a question.  Think of how cool it would be if an hour before the concert started a handful of orchestra members or staff were in the lobby answering questions and interacting with audience members.  If I went to the Philly Orchestra for the first time and could have my question about seating, the hall, program, or whatever answered by one of the musicians performing, that would make a huge impact on me.  It would make think that this organization really cared about me.  After all, the money I spent on tickets does contribute a significant amount to the revenue of the organization and their livelihoods.

Draw the audience into the music
Some orchestras do this better than others from my experience, but as whole, the performance as a whole can loose a lot of people's attention when the music isn't happening.  A lot of what happens once the lights go down in the hall can be very foreign to those that haven't experienced it before (and even those that have judging from how many people I see asleep at some concerts...).  There is a lot of dead space in our current concert experience.  Some of the space is necessary, but some of that time could be utilized to engage the audience with what is happening/going to happen on the stage.

Breaking down the barrier between the performers and audience members would do a world of good when it comes to bringing them to the world of music.  Occasionally I have been to Philadelphia Orchestra concerts when one of the musicians will talk about a piece or something before the tuning begins.  I think this is great because it does make them seem like normal people (which they are!) to the audience members that may have never even seen an oboe.  But I think it would be even cooler if after the conductor came out, he turned around and welcomed the audience to the performance and said a quick something about the piece, the city, or the orchestra.  Conductors are portrayed as these god-like figures in the classical music world and I think it would be really awesome to have them break down the barrier a bit by reaching out to the audience members and personally thanking them for their support of the orchestra.

And just one more quick thought about linking these two ideas together.  What if each concert had some way of bringing the music alive for the audience members to physically experience something that inspired a composition or the performance?  Just off the top of my head, one example could be applied to a performance of Pictures at an Exhibition.  What if an orchestra actually set up a display of the paintings that inspired Mussorgsky to compose this work in the lobby.  Instead of just reading dry/academic concert notes in the program the audience could read about it and be invited by the conductor or musicians to check out the paintings in the lobby before, during, or after the concert and experience what Mussorgsky did before composing this landmark piece.

It wouldn't take much to implement some of these (or similar) ideas into the concert experience and I think it would make a huge difference to the audience if organizations put some attention to detail and creativity into how their product is presented to their supporters.  I think ideas like these are what would make the idea of attending a performance of classical music not only more appealing to potential new patrons, but more engaging to the existing audience.  Perhaps some day my friend will become a supporter of the local orchestra.  I will do my best to get him to join me soon.

This certainly isn't the last time I will touch on this topic.  I'd love to hear your insights and thoughts on this.

If you're particularly interested, hear are some other posts that inspired me to write this:
Drew McManus at Adaptistration
Joe Patti at Butts in Seats
Sharon Torello at LocalArtsLive

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you'll join in the conversation.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Educating for the future.

As I mentioned in my very first post, about the time I was nearing the end of my junior year of college, I felt like I was becoming lost in my studies and that my career was going to be over before I even started.  In my efforts to understand what I was doing and regain direction in my life, I began reading.  A lot.  As I got more involved in different topics and reading, it became crystal clear to me what the issue was.  Schools and the industry I was entering are very much holding to what worked in the past instead of looking to future of the business and adapting to the rapidly changing world around us.

I think one of the most valuable lessons I learned from my time in school and observing a lot of the current state of the arts scene is that old methods don't work anymore.  What worked in the past isn't necessarily going to continue working in the future and students really need to get hip to that from the beginning of their careers.  Schools are preparing students for careers and a world that have been become virtually non-existent and many students aren't even aware of it.  For the sake of future generations, steps need to be taken immediately for a shift in how students are educated.

With that being said, I think it's important to point out how difficult change can be.  Especially in large organizations with tremendous bureaucratic obstacles to overcome.  While difficult, this shift in thinking is very possible and already happening in many places.  It's no one's fault that it got this way, but it certainly is in everyone's best interest to embrace the inevitable changes that need to take place in the arts.

Some (not all, but this is a good starting point) skills that I think every student should be equipped with as they take on the new world are:

-Entrepreneurship ---- This is a big one.  Everyone should have some basic understanding of what it takes to launch your own projects and create your own opportunities.

-Networking--- Knowing how to effectively utilize your connections and resources is something many people don't have a very thorough understanding of.  It's amazing how far you can reach for advice, potential collaborations, or even a job by just knowing how to use your network.

-Fundraising--- It's amazing to think that most people in the arts probably have no idea where their paychecks come from.  Whether you're concert master of the Boston Symphony or a Teaching Artist for the local orchestra it's important to know where that money came from and how your organization got a hold of it.  Getting paid to do what we love is pretty awesome, but should all know where the funding comes from and how to get it for ourselves if we need to.

Marketing---Being amazing at what you do is great.  But unfortunately if no one knows your exist, you'll never get any attention from it.  We should all know how to effectively market ourselves and understand what it takes to get people in the doors of your concert, gallery, or wherever it is that your audience needs to be to experience what you've got to offer.  This includes knowing how to use social media, the internet, and anything else that can get the word out.

Click here for a short book list I recently made of some amazing books that introduced me to these ideas.

These are just the basics of what I think every artist needs to have in their arsenal of skills.  Some schools and institutions do a great job of teaching their students what else it takes to make it in the world as an artist. Unfortunately everyone isn't there yet, but I think it's finally catching on.  The best thing we can do is to create a demand for these educational opportunities.  If everyone in your school wrote a letter to the department heads and deans they would hear the crowd and be much more likely to begin making the shift.

The arts community faces many challenges in the coming years and we need to reevaluate the approach we're taking.  Don't waste any time and start taking action to create a sustainable future for yourself and the entire arts industry.  We need your help leading the movement for change!

What are your thoughts?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting projects off the ground. My first experiences.

In the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of working closely with a good buddy of mine on a new project.  He had the idea of starting a concert series in a local Philly neighbor called Fishtown.  Fishtown is a pretty artsy community, but it has very little classical music (if any) available to its residents.  So our goal with this new project is not only put classical music in this neighbor, but also to get as much of the local economy and arts scene involved as possible by inviting them to participate in some way with each concert.  To kick off this new series we are putting on a holiday concert with an orchestra and the church choir will be joining us for some carols as well.  In our efforts to make this project a success, we have started doing some serious hustling (marketing?) around the local community.

I do a fair amount of reading on entrepreneurship and marketing, but this is my first time actually doing it so it's been a lot of fun to try out.  My buddy and I have both made a list of things we need to accomplish to make this happen and we have been finding that the most important thing right now is to just get the message out to the community.  Since this is my first time really doing this, I took the time to sit down and create list of questions for myself to answer moving forward with this project.

Here's what I came up with:

-What is the goal of this project?
-Who is the audience?
-Why should they care?
-How can we effectively reach them and engage them in our project?

Answering each these questions with a very defined response really helped give me a clear direction to go in.  Since our audience was the local community around the church, I started this process by going to the area and walking around.  I stopped in local businesses, talked to owners and anyone around that was interested in what I had to say.  It was incredibly insightful to just talk with my barber, the guys at the pizza shop, and local art galleries.  Everyone had great things to say about our project and seemed more than willing to help in anyway they could.  That's a good start.

Anyways, I'll keep posting about my progress as we get closer and closer to the first performance.  A link to the FB event can be found here.

Also, if you're interested, I go more in depth on my ideas from this list on my new Squidoo page.  That can be found HERE.  

Until next time...


Monday, November 12, 2012

Do someone a favor.

In the past few months I have had the opportunity to participate in some really great performances and other artistic endeavors.  Sometimes I just like to sit down and reflect on what led to me getting the call for that particular gig instead of someone else.  Often it comes from referrals from my teachers or fellow freelancers I have played with at some point or another.  But recently I have been realizing how much of my work has come from people or places that I have volunteered my services for over the last few years.  It is amazing to see how far doing someone a favor can go down the line.

I have always been a big believer in power of helping others.  We all need a favor at some point or another from a friend or colleague and I've been pretty into the idea of helping out anyone I can with anything.  It doesn't always come back around, but the fact that it sometimes does is enough for me.

Too many of us get caught up in this selfish attitude where they're only trying to help themselves out.  I think that is completely wrong.  We should all be actively helping each other get gigs and make connections in the world.  My best and most consistent freelance work has come from a subbing for someone I had never and still haven't met.  Agreeing to lend a hand at the last minute without expecting compensation eventually led to some of the most fulfilling and best musical experiences of my young music career.

We're all going to need help from someone at some point.  Be willing to volunteer your talents for others.  People are more likely to help you if you've helped them.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Standing out in the crowd.

The world is a pretty crowded place. Overly crowded job markets certainly isn't unique to the music community, but since that's the biz I'm trying to make it in, I can't stop thinking about how directly it affects me everyday.  There are oodles and oodles of horn players out there all hoping to score a job in the orchestral world.  At the moment (according to there are three horn positions posted in North America.

Three.  (cue dramatic womp, womp, womp)

I understand musical chairs isn't the only place auditions are listed, but the point is there aren't many.  So how are we supposed to stand out in such a crowded job market?  I'm pretty convinced that doing something different is the only way to stand out.  The world doesn't need another horn player that only plays excerpts and Mozart concertos.  I'm not suggesting it's not important and that we shouldn't be able to, but that's not the point I'm making here.

I'm proposing that all of us need to have something unique to offer.  I got to the end of my junior year of college and realized I couldn't really play anything.  The same pieces as everyone else.  What a disappointing feeling it is to realize that all those years of practice and hard work lead me to the same place that so many other classical musicians end up.  We all play the same excerpts, etudes, and solos.  

Why should anyone listen to me?

The musicians that really stand out in the crowd are the ones that are doing something different.  If you've ever seen the amazing string trio Time for Three (TF3's most recent video) you know what kind of stuff I'm talking about.  These guys formed a trio of two violins and a bass.  I'm sure it's tough to find music for that group, but these guys make it work for them.  There are a million string groups out there playing Brahms and Beethoven, but when I first heard these guys I couldn't believe how awesome it was.  Why?  

Because it was so unique!  When something is this out of the ordinary it jumps out and makes people listen.

So, I suppose the question we should ask ourselves is why are so many of us doing the same thing?  

Why should anyone listen to me play instead of someone else?  

Just to be clear, I'm not knocking excerpts or Mozart.  But I am certainly suggesting that we may not be doing ourselves any favors by only focusing on the norm.  You can still play the standards, but keep in mind there are tons of others fighting for the attention.  

I think a lot of us are afraid to be different.  Being unique tends to draw attention and that can often be scary.  But fortunately for everyone, we have nothing to loose when trying something new.  Worst case scenario you find out what doesn't work for you.  So with that in mind, we should all take a chance a try something different.  Wear something crazy, create your own ensemble, present the old classics in a new way.  Whatever.  I hope you'll take some time and really think about what I'm saying here and how this applies to you.

Do something different.  Who knows?  It might just work.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Projects. We've all had ideas. Let's act on them!

If you can't tell from my other posts thus far, I'm really into the idea being an entrepreneur and creating your own opportunities.  I had the pleasure of sitting down with a buddy of mine yesterday and we probably spent an hour or so just talking about our own ideas for projects and ways to approach them.  It really got me thinking about my own ideas and how to start getting them from my head in to action.  Taking my most recent post a step or two further, I wanted to pick back up on the idea I brought up that everything started out as an idea at some point.  The Canadian Brass, eighth blackbird, Kronos Quartet, and just about any other group, business, or organization started as someone's project.  These are just a few ideas off the top of my head, but they're certainly examples of someone's project that turned out to be a career defining, home run of a project in the world of chamber groups.

A few things that I think are important to keep in mind when beginning to pursue your project:
  • Be very specific about the goal you're hoping to accomplish---Keep it simple.  This is tough for me.  I often get so side-tracked with an idea that it ends up turning in to a completely different project.  Personally, I think it's good to toy around with the idea in the beginning, but once the project is in full swing we should keep focused on the goal and save the brainstorms for the beginning.
  • Make a plan.---  What steps need to be taken to accomplish the goal?  Define a very clear list of things that need to be taken care of for the project to progress.  Make a list and keep track of your progress as things are finished.  Plans will always need to be tweaked a bit so keep that in mind as the project progresses.
  • Assemble a team.--- Finding the right people to help you on your project can be incredibly difficult.  This is almost always the hardest thing for me on my own projects.  Your team should be made up of people that are flexible, trustworthy, and as my buddy mentioned yesterday, they should really believe in the goal of the project.  (Thanks for pointing that out to me Gabe.)  It's easy to just ask your close friends to do something but the reality is that they may not always be the best people for the job.
  • Stay focused and dedicated to the idea.---Be dedicated to your project and really stick with it.  This may be obvious, but it's tough to do.  This isn't a necessarily complete list, but these are things that I have found to be important in not just starting, but following through and finishing projects.  Starting is one thing, but it's an entirely new challenge to stick with it and follow through to the end.
I think everyone at some point has an idea that they get really excited about and never really do anything with.  This happens to me all the time, but once I started keeping a notebook of my ideas it got a lot easier to keep track of everything.  If nothing else, at least I won't forget them all.  

What are your projects?  Be self starter and give it a whirl.  Not every project will be success, but if we get in the habit trying, something is bound to work out.  So get out there, have a few stinkers (everyone does), and create your own opportunities!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Getting in the habit of starting

So I'm sitting here staring out the window as my new friend hurricane Sandy pummels the east coast with flooding, squalls (I had to look up what that was when the weather channel told me they were heading my way), and all kinds of other nifty things.  Since the outside world has seemed to stop for now, I decided to write about something that has been on my mind a lot lately.  So for today's post, I'll be talking about starting.

In the last few months, I have found myself with what feels like infinite amounts of free time on my hands.  After years and years of absolutely no free time, it has been a nice change of pace to just sit and relax from time to time.  Relaxing is great and all, but I have discovered I waste tremendous amounts of time.  I seriously spend hours sometimes getting excited about ideas I have but have a tendency to just write them down and never act on them.  This has to stop.

Instead of sitting around waiting for the world to hand over opportunities to me, I have made the decision that from now on I need to get in the habit of creating my own opportunities.  I am constantly thinking of these big ideas and unfortunately I have yet to follow through on putting them in to action.  One thing is this blog you're currently reading.  I have seriously been telling myself for about 6 months I was going to start this and when I finally did it was a great feeling to just do it.

I think a big reason that so many of us never get in this habit is because we're afraid to fail.  I know I was about this blog and still am about some of my other projects I have in mind.  But facing the fear of failure isn't all that bad when you just do it.  Who cares if you fail?  I mean really, who cares?  At least you tried.  It may be a drag, but you'll get over it and learn from the experience.  In my case, I have virtually nothing to lose and everything to gain so there is really no excuse for not pursuing these projects.

The most successful people constantly start.  Seth Godin (whose blog can be found here) reminds me of this every single time I read one of his 15 books, ebooks, or listen to him speak on TED.  He and many of the people he writes about have created their own careers from just constantly starting.

Every successful group, organization, school, or whatever started from an idea.  All it takes is someone with the creativity, motivation, and passion to get it off the ground.  We all have what it takes, but we just need to make the decision to get started.  That's it.  Not every idea will be a total success, but there's no way of knowing unless you just start and see what happens.

We've all got what it takes and if you're reading this from the east coast, take advantage of the time you've got while this storm passes to get started.  The world is just waiting for the next great idea.  Maybe it's yours.  You'll never know unless you try.

Don't put it off until tomorrow or next week.  Start now!  Go, go, go!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

The one trick pony. Don't let that be you!

Let's say you are trying to get a project started from scratch on your own.

Who would you rather work with?

-A qualified person that will bring enthusiasm and always have their part prepared?

-Someone that not only does everything listed above, but also comes ready to offer any other skills they have to further the project?

Personally, I'll take the latter.

Too many of us get totally wrapped up in our own playing and tend to forget (or not even realize) that we all have something else to offer.  The world is filled with people that can play the excerpts better than you can. Period.  I don't want to a be a negative nancy, but these days I don't think anyone can rely solely on one skill to get their dream job.  Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that you don't "have what it takes", but I'm just saying that it's important to be realistic with ourselves about this stuff.  I have a ton of incredibly talents friends and colleagues that don't have full time gigs but do well for themselves by bringing different skills to the table.  

These other skills could be literally anything as long as you're creative and active in your use of them.  Maybe you're flexible with different styles, compose/arrange, or are good with people.  Whatever it is, if you present it the right way, anything you've got a knack for can be used at some point to further your career.  We are all individuals and have something unique to bring to the table.  Everyone can play the excerpts so don't be afraid to set yourself apart with something unique to you!

If you're having trouble thinking of some ideas, here are some different ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
-Being organized
-Being proactive 
-Fund-raising/grant writing
-Being hip to social media
-Networking/using your personal connections
-Even having a car could be something you've got that others don't!

Again, pretty much anything you're good at can be applied to your career if you're creative about it.  So if you haven't already start thinking of ways that YOU as an individual can contribute something totally unique to your future, get started now!  In short, make your self indispensable!

Thanks for reading!  I'd love to hear some feedback for you!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thoughts on networking

I can only speak from personal experience, but my brief time out of school has been an incredibly eye opening experience.  This will almost certainly be an on going topic in future posts, but looking back on my time in school, it kind of blows my mind that no one ever mentioned the skills that really make or break you as musicianl  Perhaps this is obvious to you (it wasn't to me), but when I really started thinking about it, I realized networking is unbelievably important.

I'm still learning, but I think the most important thing to stress about this is that networking isn't about just knowing everyone and handing out your business card to anyone that you think might get you a gig.  It's absolutely about creating meaningful relationships with people that can be mutually beneficial but I think should go beyond professional needs.  Don't be afraid to really get know someone.

One of the greatest things about your network is having other people to reach out to when you need some guidance.  I was fortunate to have some really incredible teachers that really took me under their wing outside of horn lessons to help me get started when I was worrying about the future and how to go about everything.  Not only did they constantly offer me advice and guidance, but they were able to lead me directly to others that were able to offer me guidance as well.  

And I think it's worth pointing out that most people are extremely willing to take time to offer guidance to those starting out.  Everyone started somewhere and knows what it's like.  It feels good to help someone in need of guidance and most people are absolutely willing to take the time to help.  

There is a great book on networking called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi that I think should be required reading for every music student.  We can't all make it alone, and at some point we will absolutely need the help of someone else .  Ferrazzi does a fantastic job of laying it all out when it comes to networking.  It helped me out and if you're not sure where to start with this whole networking business this book may be a good fit for you.

Thanks for reading, and as always comments and feedback are always welcome!


What's the plan?

Everyone has a goal.  These goals may change overtime, but no matter who you talk to, everyone has some kind of goal for themselves.  The tough thing that I think a lot of musicians and other artists have trouble with is figuring out what to do to get there.

How many people do you know that finish school and have no clue what's next?  It's a total drag, but I know a ton of incredibly talented musicians that fall into this category.

This may be totally obvious but I think it's worth mentioning (I know I could use the reminder once in awhile!) that the first step to figuring out the next step is to figure out what you truly want to accomplish.  Once we know where we're going, it's a hell of a lot easier to start getting there.  Unfortunately there isn't a map to accomplish anything so we're on our own figuring out how to get where we're going.  Some of my favorite conversations with veterans of the music biz are hearing their stories from their own journeys.  Mind you, no plan could ever predict the winding road of life, but you gotta start somewhere!

This is a perfect place for everyone's favor Michael Jordan quote, but I'm going to throw curve ball and leave you with this one instead:

"There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth.  Not going all the way, and not starting."

-Siddhartha Gautama

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Where it all started

You know what is a total bummer?  When you dedicate years of your life preparing for something and when you get there it is not only completely different than you were expecting, but strangely unsatisfying.  

This happened to me a few years ago when I took my first orchestral audition.  I showed up in Princeton, NJ to take the audition for the 2nd Horn position and I really thought I was going to really blow the walls down. For months I had been plowing through the excerpts and playing the Mozart concerto a bar at a time with a metronome.  This was all fine and dandy, but there was some very frustrating about the process that I couldn't seem to shake for months following the audition.  My audition was at the end of my junior year of college, and this feeling stuck with me all the way through the day I graduated from school. 

So, now what?

Well, I must say I have been fortunate to be exposed to the world of freelancing, private teaching, auditions, and all that other stuff from a pretty young age.  This experience, I think was the most valuable thing that I took away from my years as a student.  It prompted me to take a major step back and really examine the direction I had been going in for the last few years.  I won't claim that it was an epiphany that instantly changed my life (wouldn't that be nifty though?)  but it has led to some serious thoughts about what I truly wanted to do.  The most important thing I took away from the experience was that even though it didn't show me what I wanted for myself, it did show me what I didn't want to do.  

As I begin to make my way in the world, I will be posting here about my experiences and lessons I learn along the way.  Please feel free to join in the conversation at any point!