I graduated… now what?

“Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die.”  – Paul Simon

As a musician, we are often guided from the first moments of our first lesson all the way through college. Since I choose not to attend graduate school immediately following my 4 years as an undergrad, I’m was, for the first time in 15 years, not receiving weekly music lessons of some fashion. I’m expected to create my own projects, seek/create gigs, and be the teacher (the student to teacher paradigm shift is a whole other post!). Of course, you have the added stresses of beginning to strike out on your own on top of all this. It quickly can become overwhelming and isolating and if you are not careful, paralyzing.

The question of, “You graduated… now what?” didn’t pertain to me in the sense of not knowing what I wanted to do – I knew I want to teach, perform, and bring music to the lives of everyone I encounter – the question for me was, “Who am I as an artist?” While I was excited that I was finally on my own path, it was (and is) a terrifying realization that I truly have complete control over my destiny. Whether you fail or succeed in life is entirely up to you. To be frank, I have had those 3 am moments when I wake up and wonder, how am I going to make a difference with my life? Am I a good enough artist to take on these projects?

The further up I hike up this mountain the more I realize that I need mentors, cheerleaders, and also colleagues who are in the same spot as I am now. I am fortunate to know I have all three of those parties which creates a vital support system during this adjustment period (yes, it’s still happening!)  and think they’re important for recent graduates no matter the degree program. Now that I’m approaching my one year mark I am dedicating time to look back at what I have accomplished this last year and am pleased. I am a part of an amazing organization filled with wonderful colleagues, am meeting artists of all kinds, have become a better teacher, have become a master of having a productive 20 minute practice sessions, and have felt myself growing into myself as an artist.

My next year is already being filled with wonderful projects; some which are happening, will be happening, and are just brainstorms but I am excited to see where life leads me. One thing I do know for sure – it will be filled with music, laughter, friends, and much more growth.

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