What Defines Success?

The definition of success alludes me, especially when related to music.

According to my iPhone dictionary app, success is defined as:

– noun
1. the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.
2. the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.
3. a successful performance or achievement: The play was an instant success.
4. a person or thing that is successful: She was a great success on the talk show.

Wealth or money always seem to find its way into everything.

Today, in our weekly studio class, it was all about preparing for an orchestra audition. I sat there and found myself wondering why we put so much emphasis on winning auditions when, unless something drastically changes in todays society, the orchestra will no longer be even a remotely viable career option.

Yes, I know it’s a conservatory – that’s what they teach. But the music world is in some SERIOUS poo-poo and we GOTTA fix it.

The impetus of this post is because I felt, for the first time, in a long time, like I am neither a successful clarinetist or musician. Why? Because I haven’t won an audition, actually I havent taken any (I’d rather spend my money on reeds, beer, or pay my pianist to play a recital) – itd be great to win a job out in the middle of North Dakota, where I’ll make less money than the register guy at McDonalds.

I’m a teacher, baby, and though I can teach in an orch job – I don’t want to be locked into a position where I cannot, on a whim, travel to teach a class here or there. There are some people that are better suited for that job, I don’t think I’m well suited – I want to be on the front ranks of congress screaming at senator x, y, and z about the importance of music education. I want to inspire college students to not only perform and teach, but to become great entrepreneurs. I want to teach artists – not machines.

I’m a second class citizen here. But you know what, I’ll get a stable job at University X, create brilliant students, Inspire young minds, change public policy, and be an artist.

Okay, end rant. I guess I’ll go learn these damn excerpts for the Minnesota opera….



One response to “What Defines Success?

  1. I’ve thought this many times. Practicing orchestra excerpts for jobs I don’t want can be, at times, excruciating. But I chalk it up to the fact that learning them makes me a better teacher; someday, maybe you or I will have students who do want an orchestral gig. We’ll need to know the excerpts to help the kids. Plus, maybe politically-motivated people like you and I can also be the force that helps orchestras and other professional ensembles so that those jobs exist.

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