Sometimes, life takes you by surprise.
I went into this academic year having no idea where my life was headed. I knew that this would (thankfully) be my last year as a student, and I was gaining professional experience in a variety of capacities, but I didn't know what would come next. While I tend to be extremely optimistic about everyone else's life opportunities, I am incredibly pessimistic about my own. I'm working on improving my outlook, but it's a long road and a difficult change to make. I honestly believed that upon the completion of my coursework this June I would end up working full time at a coffee shop...again. First, let me stress that there is NOTHING wrong with this at all. However, being a professional barista isn't exactly the desired outcome of 9 years of MUSIC school.
As the year progressed, I ended up being presented with three great opportunities for the next phase of my life. Shockingly, one of those opportunities was to stay in Cincinnati as a musician, as I have finally successfully broken into the freelance performing and teaching scene (side note: being patient about the time it takes to "make it" is going to be the topic of my next post). Up until about a month ago, I had no idea which of the three options I was going to choose. I went back and forth about every other day: "Option A is the best. No wait, option B is totally the right choice. Just kidding, I'm going to do option C." I'm used to having to choose between the lesser of evils, and having to choose the BEST among great opportunities is new territory for me.
After a significant amount of deliberation and soul searching (cheesy, I know...but true all the same), I am happy to announce that I will be a member of the 2013 Sistema Fellows program at NEC (formerly known as the Abreu Fellows program). I feel so incredibly lucky to have been selected for this program. I truly believe that this fellowship is the last necessary step in giving myself the chance to make my career as fulfilling as I want it to be.
I will be spending September 2012 - June 2013 residing in Boston, with stints in other US cities and Venezuela along the way. Though participating in this program, I hope make a clear decision about the role sistema will play in my life, and in what capacity I will be the most beneficial to the success of the movement in the US. I also plan to use this time to complete my DMA document/dissertation/project/whatever-CCM-is-calling-it-now, which concerns the effectiveness of brass pedagogy in a group setting. I am honored to join the ranks of sistema fellows, all of whom have immensely enriched the lives of youth all across America.
The decision to accept the fellowship was not an easy one. I have worked so hard to become a decent horn player, and I was concerned that accepting the fellowship would mean I was giving up on my chances as a performer. After having several conversations with some wonderful people who have also chosen this path, I have realized that is not the case. My horn playing will always be an integral part of who I am. My musical goals haven't changed at all- the destination just looks different now. I also couldn't ignore the fact that the last time I experienced the excitement and conviction that I feel about sistema philosophy was when I became vegan seven years ago (see last blog post for that explanation). I realized that I would actually be doing myself a disservice if I didn't accept this fellowship and see where it takes me. I will not be closing any doors, but instead opening many new ones.
If I've learned anything over the past year, it's that I have no idea where my life will take me a year from today. As musicians, we possess such a wonderful gift of our careers being able to take us wherever our heart truly desires as long as we are willing to put in the work to get us there. I now look at my life as a musician as a giant, wonderful adventure; I'm excited to discover the results of this next great journey.