Finding Your Path

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Crossroads can have many branches.

Many musicians like myself experience a pivotal moment in their lives when they hit the full-time orchestral employment wall and are forced to make a choice – do I quit and pursue a new career or do I redefine what my career is?

At Trumpet Matters, Phil Collins writes in Making Your Marks: many top orchestra principal positions will become available in the near future? You can count them on one hand, maybe two. To invest all of our emotional energy on such a tiny window of “success” is beyond reason. O.K. how about section positions in a wider range of orchestras? A bigger pool for sure, but still extremely competitive. There are simply more competent brass players than there are positions to accommodate them. We have two options. We can give up and move to another profession, or we can readjust our perspective and redefine our purpose.

In a previous post I remarked that if you do not have a satisfying career by the time you are 25, consider making a change. This may seem harsh but the unilateral path aimed solely at an orchestra job can be paved with potholes and dead-ends. It is a path best pursued while young.

Collins advises:

Step back, evaluate your talents and consider what gives you the most fulfillment. The world is crying out for those who will challenge and inspire young people to find themselves and their purpose in life.

About 15 years ago I started to see the end of the road and the limits of continuing to pursue orchestral jobs exclusively. Over a transitional period of several years I discovered that I could successfully channel my creative juices into other fulfilling avenues.

I still maintain a modest playing career, but my energies are shared with teaching and “webbing.” My only regret is that I did not choose to do this sooner rather than later.

Give Mr. Collins’ article a read – he offers some sage advice. His other articles are also worth checking out. Collins has a knack for relating his insights and experience in a very clear and direct way.

University of Horn Matters