Often when I start a new relationship with a student, I ask them what their ultimate goal in music is. This is what my teacher Karen Tuttle asked me at my first lesson. At the time I answered her that my ultimate goal was to go to the Curtis Institute. She responded that that was a goal, but didn’t sound like an ultimate goal. I dug deeper and told her my dream which was even hard to articulate at the time for fear of incredulousness or mockery. I said that I wanted to play in the Philadelphia Orchestra.
She met that pronouncement not with a “reality check” or other some such lecture on how hard or impossible that was, and said, “Ok let’s get to it!” Every choice and decision I made after that point, including where I was going to spend my summers, how much I was going to practice and what I was going to sacrifice to make it possible, was directed to achieving that goal. I gave up free weekends, alot of late night socializing, and plentiful excuses. The responsibility was mine to make this happened and she as my teacher was going to help me make the journey by showing me how to practice , play better, and make good choices that would affect my future.
Now that I sit in the teacher’s chair I have wonderful perspective of knowing what it feels like to be a student and feel, afraid, overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated and disappointed. I also know that our goals must be long term. It is not about the small triumphs. It is really all about perseverance. The students who make the sacrifices and stick with it until they get where they want to go. Good fortune and a supportive network of people are also crucial of course.
Your career dream and goal should be your motivation. If you can think it then you can do it. Take responsibility for your goals, your practice, and your perseverance.