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Weighing heavily on my mind recently has been my motivations for making public, thoughts on the French horn and the classical music business. About two years ago, I went through a similar soul search and posted these reasons:
- A joy of creative writing.
- Public service and contribution.
- A means to ponder and think out loud.
- Interaction with other people.
Since then, the psyche of musicians and what makes them tick has been a topic of many articles. It has become a subject of fascination and it is something that motivates me to speak out.
After leaving my position with the Mexico City Philharmonic I became a graduate assistant at Arizona State University and studied horn with Thomas Bacon. At the time internet technology, and in particular making web pages, was a new concept. It became a hobby that quickly developed into a sideline career.
When I got started with web design in 1995, Ron Boerger’s Horn Player’s FAQ reigned supreme as a horn resource. It was the inspiration for me to try out a new medium to showcase Thomas Bacon and his efforts at ASU.
A gradual transition
Since that time I created and launched many web sites, including those for The International Horn Society, Robert King Music and Osmun Music.
I first began posting articles around 2008 with the Horndog Blog. My efforts were sporadic at first as I struggled with balancing and maintaining multiple careers in music, teaching and web development.
It was a path paved with some detours and pitfalls, but in the end I managed to land on my feet. I am fortunate today to have a good career as a web developer by day and as a professional musician on nights and weekends.
The work environment for some musicians – as any veteran professional might confess – has a shadowy underbelly, one that is rarely discussed outside of the concert hall. It is like a dirty family secret, perpetuating itself from place-to-place and generation-to-generation.
How do I know so much about annoying and alienating colleagues? Mainly because (I am embarrassed to admit) I have participated in many of these behaviors myself!
As my career transitioned more towards web development and marketing this was something that became clearer over time. Looking from a different perspective can change everything.
A whithered path
Boredom and cynicism are the green-eyed monsters in the classical music world. Its venomous effect sinks in like slow, deadly poison.
Some people deal with this creatively by pursuing outside projects, for example: taking up a hobby, teaching students, becoming a soloist, making a recording or writing a book. Others, fall prey to it and cope in a variety of ways.
This is not to say that the business is inherently evil and full of misfits, but rather to say that at some point we all must face choices.
- Do I take the high road or the low road?
- Do I wallow in the mud or do I try to rise above it?
- Can I make a dent in this world?
Cynicism and negativity are realities in any profession really but in the Arts especially, where hearts and emotions are at the core, it is a trap that ensnares a number of good people.
It is something for all of us to be wary of and in some circumstances, something to act on proactively.