What did you aspire to be when you were growing up, and what other careers were you considering?

I loved to draw when I was a kid, so I thought I might become a cartoonist or illustrator. Once I got serious about singing, I considered transferring from Grinnell College to a conservatory, but I’m glad I stayed and got a liberal arts education and spent those formative years surrounded by people with varied interests and not just musicians. I think that helped make me a more well rounded person and musician—and if I ever had second thoughts about a singing career, I always felt like I could have done a lot of other things.

The above comes from an interview with baritone Thomas Meglioranza. I think it is a very important paragraph from a very interesting interview. (Thomas is also a bogger, in case you didn’t already know that.)

When people ask me about where they should go to pursue a music career I always recommend saving the music conservatory for graduate work. Making it in the music business is tough. There are absolutely no guarantees. In high school an oboist is often not only a big fish in a small pond, but is frequently the only fish in her pond. She’s been told she’s great by nearly everyone. When you hear that for four years you really start thinking you are as good, if not better, than every oboist out there. This is never the case. Really. There are plenty of great high school oboists out in the big bad world. High school students need to know that! So while you might be told by everyone around you that you will be the next principal oboist of the New York Philharmonic, so are a large number of other oboists at other high schools. And each professional orchestra only needs one, or in rare cases two, principal oboist.

So go to a university. Get a well rounded education. Mix with people other than those classical trained, blind-to-anything-else musicians. Find out if you have other loves. Give yourself options.

The music world I live in is a very wonderful one. I’m thankful for the musician’s life. I love playing with my colleagues. Shoot, I even get some sort of twisted enjoyment from whining over reeds. But could I live if it were taken away? Yes. And you can too.

Besides, if you do succeed in music, it’s helpful to know the non-performing folks as well. Make connections at school with people who don’t play an instrument. They are the ones buying tickets, after all. 🙂

3 Comments

  1. Wise words, woman!

  2. Thanks, Ceci!

    I do hope I don’t make anyone angry with this one … time will tell, eh?

  3. very good advise :). I want to become a professional oboist when I grow up, but I agree that you should expose yourself to other things. My other passion besides music is biology. I love working with animals and studying their behavior. I also have a few friends who are artists, and one is great with languages.

    I’d say I’m off to a good start, donchya think?