And just like that, two years have flown by. [Some of my readers have been following this blog since it started in 2011 — does it feel like two years to you?!] I took all the necessary classes (and more), got the grades, and this week I graduated with my Master’s in Music. Of course we were sent off with some advice:
From our Dean, Dr. Kwang-Wu Kim —
- Be on time
- Reach out to others
- Learn from those who are more “experienced” or “successful” or “better,” however you want to define those terms
- Listen as much as you talk
- Be passionate
- Live everyday with a sense of gratitude
- Take responsibility for your actions and their consequences
And from the Assistant Director of The Design School, Joseph Ewan (who added that if you can’t do all three, do at least two and you may be forgiven for missing the mark on the third) —
- Be on time (yes, this advice made it into both speeches!)
- Do good work
- Be someone others enjoy working with
There’s no doubt that I know more now than I did when I first arrived in this strange and beautiful desert. I’ve been exposed to more repertoire, and I’ve learned more music. I have a better understanding of my voice and how the voice works. I discovered a love for early music, which I hadn’t explored before. I’m much more comfortable on stage and more sensitive to what the music is saying about the drama and the character. I know I’m a better musician after the history and theory classes, the lessons, the coachings, and the performances.
However, there are also some things I am less sure about than I was two years ago. When I decided to go to graduate school, I was determined and on fire to be an operatic singer, and I told myself I was not going to change my mind about this. Now I’m asking myself if I have what it takes — the thick skin, the money, the time — to be a professional singer? I imagined myself on stage, singing in beautiful opera houses; I still want that experience, but now I’m wondering how I can make a mark on and be part of the classical music scene in ways other than just being a traditional performer.
Even after wearing the gown with the funny sleeves and having my voice teacher hood me, I’m still a little stunned to be moving onto the next part of my life, the part where I live and grow without the context of school to keep me focused and on schedule. Why are they releasing me into the wild when I still have so much to figure out? How can this possible be a good idea? I have too many questions, not enough answers, and no solid plan.
I was thinking these thoughts even as I started this post, but then I went back and reread the advice Dean Kim and Professor Ewan gave. They said nothing about knowing everything and having a perfect plan (and I admit that the best laid plans can always get overturned by luck, coincidence, destiny, and timing). Instead, they emphasized attitude and passionate hard work. It’s about setting off into the unknown with a spirit of willingness and courage.
So, no matter the job market and the number of unanswered questions, congratulations to all those graduating this year. Go out into the world! Be happy, strong, creative, kind, and unafraid. To the friends I’ve made at school, the people I’ve grown and learned with: who knows where our lives will take us — I can’t wait to hear about your adventures, and I look forward to making music with you again.