As a musician, we design our actions to meet goals. We have certain expectations for outcomes, ranging from the most basic skills - such as looking at a page of music in order to understand and play the notes and rhythms, taking a full breath in order to produce a tone on a wind instrument, and practicing a passage in order to attain a deeper understanding and reliable execution of what the music requires. We plan a phrase to peak at the right moment, maintaining tension in the line until we reach a point of resolution or rest. We know that if we invest of ourselves, we make things happen, and because of that - music is a sure bet.
Why be a musician? Think about the thousands of skills we develop over the journey of reaching these goals...are they unique to music? Some likely are, yet some surely reach a broader framework. In other words, being a musician is preparation for life!
I'm a list-maker, good - old-fashioned lists. I type all the time, but I love making lists, especially handwritten lists. I've tried countless apps and programs to enhance my productivity (and my students know I'm a Google user - Drive, Calendar, etc.), but my favorite tool is a beaten up notebook - whichever one I'm using at the moment. Each school year I buy a bunch of them for the special sale price of something ridiculous like ten cents, getting as many different colors as I can, and I fill one at a time with brainstorming, repertoire lists, masterclass notes, ideas for students, and other items that are important to me. So with that in mind, it's time to start brainstorming and make a few lists. Some of these ideas are courtesy of the Baylor Flute Studio class we had today, by the way (Sic'em!):
1. Take a moment to make a list of all the different ACTIVITIES that you engage in while being a musician. This can be full of details like performing recitals, playing an audition behind a screen, investing in music, eating a balanced diet, expanding your breath capacity, and wearing chapstick when not playing. What about the really meaningful events, such truly inspiring someone through your playing or connecting with a student in a transformative "aha!" moment?
2. Now, make another list of all the SKILLS you have acquired as a musician. These can certainly be in-progress skills, too, since being a musician is being a life-long process. [I believe this is aspect of being a musician is one of the greatest gifts we have! We are never "done" - there's always more to learn, more things to try, another piece to hear. How cool is that?] Things that come to mind are collaboration, critical thinking and listening, creative problem-solving, spontaneity, leadership, teamwork, flexibility, curiosity, self-sustaining initiative, risk-taking, reflection, maintaining a balance (emotionally, physically, spiritually), kinesthetic connection and awareness, multitasking, and the list should go on and on...
3. Finally, star or highlight things on your lists that are useful life skills. In other words, recognize the music-making/teaching/learning/breathing/sleeping abilities which have enhanced your marketability in today's world. You might be surprised!
In today's economic climate, there are no sure bets in terms of preparing for a profession.
Yes, being a musician is challenging, yet the rewards are so great. Cultivating art will charge and sustain you throughout your life. For that, music is a sure bet.