Why I Do What I Do

There is little, if nothing, appealing about standing in locking yourself in a room for hours at a time, just to wear yourself out and make yourself frustrated and anger. And yet, zillions of people do it everyday! We may call them other things, but kindly refer to them as musicians.

I consider myself one of those lunatics (oops, I mean musicians).You may question why, since so far I’ve only gone on one or two rants, and I don’t THINK I come off as a raving nutcase. And you have every right to question, because let’s face it–when you think musician, you think “starving artist,” or “street musician,” or “poor,” or “hopeless.” Music majors aren’t exactly the most reliable degree ever.

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I’ve wondered about my motives a lot, too. I’m not always entirely positive I’m dedicated enough. Do I love it enough to do it the rest of my life? Do I love it enough to spend countless hours practicing and rehearsing and constantly trying to get better? Do I love it enough to take the risk of working at a minimum wage job for longer than I should because I can’t get a job relating to my degree? Do I love the music or do I love the lifestyle and the reputation more?

I can’t say “yes” for certain right now. Maybe after a while, I will be able to. Maybe I’ll never be able to before age 50. But this is what I do know: I know that going to college and not being part of the music program at all would be certain death. I know that I love being part of the music community in any place–I find kindred spirits with other musicians. I know that if I gave it up I’d become the ultimate couch potato or recluse. Everything I ever learned about violin or piano would whoosh out my ears and disappear. I know that I can’t see myself in a research laboratory or behind a desk or in a cubicle.

I know that I can see myself in a place where (preferably) I can see whatever crazy conductor is in this season and where the horns won’t be drowning out my sound. I can see myself in a private studio, teaching children music I love. I can see myself as a clinician, helping high school students, or leading a section in Mahler 2. I know the feeling you get when you’re sitting at the head of a massive orchestra and the music is swelling up behind you, threatening to roll over into the audience. I know the feeling when a spontaneous standing ovation happens for your less-than-perfect performance, but you still feel amazing about it. And if I could keep these feelings; if I could keep being the Music Geek, violinist, teacher, crazy artiste that I (more or less) am for the rest of my life; if all of those visions could come true; I would be perfectly happy.

I love being a musician. It’s the greatest title anyone could have, because as a musician, you’re spreading beauty and humanity and love through sounds. It’s so personal; every time you play, you’re giving a little piece of yourself to a huge crowd of strangers, and it brings everyone closer together. It doesn’t matter if it’s your favorite rock band in a concert you’ll remember for the rest of your life or the local community orchestra’s weekend show in a tiny black box theatre. You have already created and/or been inducted into a clique, if you will, a group of people with whom you share some small thing in common. 

I considered psychology (or psychiatry) for a bit before settling tentatively on music. I love people (sometimes), I loved learning about people in my high school psych class, and I wanted to know more about the human psyche and how I could help people with their psychological problems. It’s truly fascinating. But in some ways, music may be even more human. I don’t know, I may double major so I can absorb all the lessons of humanity I can. I don’t even know if I’ll stay with the music major. Maybe it’ll turn out I actually can’t handle it.

But right now I’m bent on going for it and trying to keep that life. Because if you ask me, it’s better to love what you do and not be rich than to do something you despise and make six figures. 

~J

(Image taken from www.whatshouldwecallconservatory.tumblr.com, a hilarious music blog that all musicians will appreciate.)

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