Sunday, October 10, 2010

Career Choices

If you've known me for more than 2 seconds, you know that I love music. As one friend put it, I live music. I've spent my entire life, including the time in my mother's womb, surrounded by music. I was never told that I had to make a career in music; in fact, my mother asked me specifically not to become a music teacher because she basically wanted me to make a living in which I could afford nice things. *Side Note: Mom's a retired music professor. ;-)

Believe it or not, I actually started out looking at colleges for engineering. I had one or two schools offer me a full ride if I majored in engineering! I courted a few of them during my junior year of high school but by senior year I knew it was music for me and nothing else. I didn't even want to major in one thing and get a music minor, or  work toward a double major. I wanted to absorb more music--as much as I could--into my brain and soul for the next four years.

I changed my major from Music Performance to General Music so that I could focus on theory (UNCG doesn't have an undergraduate theory degree) and prepare for a Master's degree in theory. But wouldn'tcha know it--I got to UT, started off in music theory, then switched back to performance. I came full circle!

So here I am with a BA in Music and an MM in Viola Performance. I teach part-time at Pellissippi State Community College, teach privately (violin and viola) in my home, perform with symphonies and chamber groups in the area, and manage my own group (Robyn James Trio).

But I want more. I'm happiest when I'm creating music in smaller settings (read: not on a huge stage with 100 people) with other people who eat, sleep and breathe music like me. Occasionally I see glimpses of a life like this--when I perform with my friends and colleagues in the faculty recitals at Pellissippi, when I record and perform live with talented artists like Adam Whipple and the Dirty Guv'nahs, and also when I'm writing transcriptions or arrangements for assorted gigs and whatnot. The more I get involved with projects like these, the more I get compliments and encouragement from complete strangers (like students I cross paths with at Pellissippi), friends and peers, and even mentors (i.e. a former teacher from my graduate work saying "I didn't know you had 'rocker' in you. Don't hide it!").

So my non-rhetorical question is this: How do I make this happen? How do I go from doing this occasionally to doing it regularly and making a living with it? I don't want to give up teaching because I enjoy it, but I have lots of free hours during which I'd love to be making the music I teach people about every day. I'm open to suggestions, reprimands, cookie recipes...basically anything. Take the mic (aka the comment box)!