When you walk around each corner of Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, you can't help but run into people with guitars, violins, cellos, and keyboards on their backs and under their arms. This is the exact thought that comes to my head while sitting at the Starbucks sitting across the street from the Berklee College of Music tower moments ago.There's a bit of nostalgia just sitting here where I used to do my music theory, and study my orchestra music with my earbuds in. Life as a student was good.
There are SO many of us in this town. A few of you are going to graduate in the next week from universities and conservatories, and you're going to have NO IDEA what to do.
Believe me, I was there.
I wasn't really sure what my direction was for a couple years after I graduated. All I knew was that if I relied on my network and connections, I'll get by. I had a full time music job working 40 hours close to minimum wage in addition to gigs. I learned a lot from this job and made friends that I still talk to, but it got to a point where I wasn't happy.
I wasn't happy because I wasn't performing as much. If I wanted to, but my superiors wouldn't let me take the opportunities to do so.
So, I left the job.
As a recent grad who had bills to pay, I had a car, a violin, and no full-time job. Great, right?
Thankfully, leaving the job allowed me to take some more performing opportunities and ACTUALLY enjoy what I do.
With all that's going on in the media these days about the lack of funding for the National Endowment of the Arts, not enough full time orchestra jobs, you would think that my argument of becoming of a musician would be torn to shreds by now.
What if I told you that's not the case?
Being a violinist in a vibrant musical city as a student is one thing. Being a violinist in that setting as a professional is another. The struggle was real.
I had to narrow down what my priorities in music were, what my professional goals are as a violinist, and try to envision a life in music that will make happy, and importantly, stay happy. That's when I realized that the only way to take control of my life was to create opportunities for myself and for my friends was to go all-in as a heavy freelance entrepreneur violinist.
Becoming a musical entrepreneur gives you the opportunity to choose. It gives you freedom. Most importantly, you find purpose. You get to choose what kind of musician you want to be once you made it clear for yourself that you're not willing to accept the status quo, and create a path for yourself. The moment you become transparent about the type of musician you are and what you want to be, then congratulations! You've answered a very difficult question that musicians have trouble with.
The life of a musician is already difficult as it is. Knowing who you are takes you one step closer to finding what your strengths are, and finding your niche.