In 2014, I had no clue what I was doing with my life. I had no goals. I figured I would become a band director, because I was studying music education and that’s just what you did, right?
Colin Currie came to my university for a week-long residency, and it blew everything I thought I knew completely out of the water.
You can make a living performing contemporary music?
You can make a living performing as a solo percussionist?!
You can travel the world performing as a soloist with orchestras?!?!
YOU CAN HAVE A CHAMBER GROUP, TRAVEL THE WORLD SOLOING WITH ORCHESTRAS, HAVE CONCERTOS WRITTEN FOR YOU, AND TEACH ALONG THE WAY?!?!?!
He could. Why couldn’t I?
(I must’ve been living under a rock to not know who Colin was. For those of you who are scratching your heads, he is THE solo percussionist.)
That week, I kid you not, I was asked by a band director twice my age what I wanted to do when I left school. I vividly remember blurting out that I was going to become a solo percussionist, traveling the world performing and teaching. He literally laughed at me. I was taken aback, and didn’t know if I should laugh too.
I didn’t. I got pissed. And that moment has driven me since.
Because I BELIEVED it. For the first time, I knew what I wanted, believed in myself, and blindly committed to something I knew absolutely nothing about.
Fast forward to now. I’m not there yet. But I know I will be. Whether it takes 3, 5, or 10 years, I know will be.
Is it ego? Is it stupidity? Is it dedication, bravado, and foolishness?
Yes to all.
And I love it. I love the grind, the work, the journey, being looked at funny when I’m asked what I want to do…all of it. I love having the chance to talk to people about it, because by the end of the conversation, whether they believe me or not, they know I believe in myself. And that’s all that matters.
Now, equally important is having perspective, and I think keeping your delusions of grandeur in check is essential.
I recognize that the market is small, but I also recognize that markets will always make room for quality content. Be quality. Break the market.
I recognize that a lot of what I want to do is based on who I know, luck, and being in the right place at the right time. So? Grind anyways, go meet everyone you possibly can (that means you don’t say “no” when someone asks you to go get a drink), do free work, be a friend (not a networker), and present yourself like whoever you’re about to meet is going to give you the gig of a lifetime. They might.
I recognize that I might do everything I possibly can to make this dream come true, and it might not. It’s binary. Succeed or fail. You either worked hard/smart enough, or you didn’t. And if not, reevaluate.
Back to goals.
Write down your goals. Write down how you plan on achieving them, and how long you're giving yourself to do it. When the time comes, evaluate, and adjust.
Believe yourself. If you don’t, you're screwed. That doesn’t mean that you find a way to sell it to yourself, either. If it’s not inherently in you, and you don’t feel that connection, find something else. Plain and simple.
Blindly commit yourself to it, whatever it is. Don’t look back. Don’t listen to the people telling you that you can’t. You can and you will, because you said so.
Keep everything in perspective.
Thanks for reading!