Everyone has dreams and goals they want to achieve. For the musician, it can also be a multitude of things (ie. technical proficiency) and careers. In my student and pre-student days, there were countless times where I wanted to be an orchestral musician, and then I didn't want to be it; I wanted to teach in government schools, and then I didn't want to; I wanted to continue studying, and then I didn't want to (and also couldn't really).
Now begs the question - "then what do you want to be?"
Before we get there, I want to point out this article I read recently, about the demise of the "orchestral dream" . I cannot fully summarise it well enough (so please give it a read!) but the gist of it states that students cannot only rely on just winning auditions in orchestras to secure jobs, or for a big break to "be successful". I think success is relative and honestly, I'd rather use this word instead: achievement.
To an amateur, the pros in the orchestras can be seen as successful; on a more personal scale, nailing down a difficult passage or being able to play a lick in 12 keys can be seen as a success. To me, those are achievements that are the results of endless practicing, honing of skills, determination and tenacity (we'll get to tenacity in a different post).
Success has a connotation that you've reached the end, that you've done it and there's no need for follow-up, that begets complacency thereafter. I think complacency is the scariest of the lot, which is why I'm more compelled to use the word achievement. Achievements feel like they can progress, they feel like there is still more to be discovered, more to be nurtured, and have more room for growth. I relate it to Final Fantasy games, where you complete each objective required in order to progress through the storyline. And even after the story has been completed, your realise that completing the side quests actually might take up more time than completing the main storyline!
In any case, I feel it is essential that students (or anyone for that matter) do not see success as obtaining something, like getting a job or playing with a certain group or orchestra. The constant search and hunger for improvement needs to be there not only on a personal level, but also on a social one. That energy needs to be translated into the work that we produce in the hopes of inspiring future generations to follow-suit and to strive for that same "never-ending-ness". I'm sure we all have musical heroes that we strive to emulate, and I think we can be those heroes for the future generations as well.
Going back to my question on what I want to be: I want to be a versatile (we'll also talk about this in the future) musician who is able to serve the music and its purpose, to support the conductor or band leader in any project that I am in, and to ultimately play and perform like it's my last show, every show.
So now, what do you want to be?
P. S. Thanks for taking the time to read! I felt the urge to end the entry with a question but at the same time, did not want to leave without saying thanks! Please let me know what you think or feel in the comments below and do share this post. In the meantime, stay safe and be well!