I know, I know, we’re already a couple of months into 2019 – isn’t a bit late to do a “year in review” post?
Who cares! Here we go:
2018 was… wild. I spent the first half of the year travelling loads, mostly for trials and auditions – I think the most time I had at home in between trips was 3 weeks, and I can now confidently say that CrossCountry Trains can kiss my arse, and if you’re a cellist and could snatch a cheap 1st class ticket for Virgin Trains, DO IT, it’s worth it and there’s a space behind the wall and seats 1 and 2 on each 1st class coach that’s absolutely perfect for cellos. Trust me. I think the amount of travelling I did is the reason that I’m finding it very hard to reconcile in my head that all of this happened within just one year; it feels like it must have been at least two. Generally, hardly anything went as planned. I’m still freelancing, and surprisingly (to me, anyway), I actually went back into education for a one-year course. This course almost exclusively consists of paid orchestra work, though (for more info, click here), so I didn’t completely deviate from the path I set out on at the beginning of the year. As a result of that, I spent the second half of the year exclusively in Manchester, which was lovely – I do love being home. However, I also really enjoy travelling all over the country. It’s given me new confidence in myself and how I interact with people, as well as some experiences that I never would’ve had otherwise (for example my first seaside evening run ever). As a result, I feel calmer, overall. Relaxed, even. Which is a bit of a surprise, given that I’m approaching a self-imposed deadline: I told myself that if I hadn’t found a reliable source of income two years after graduation – which is July 2019 – I’d leave the UK and return home.
It’s true, I haven’t been able to secure a stable income yet, and I don’t know when it’s going to happen either. However, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t achieved anything over the last few years. The auditions, trials and orchestra work that I have undertaken have all provided me with absolutely invaluable experiences, and despite not having been “successful” in the sense of winning a permanent position, I have definitely made progress. I’ve had results, results that I’m truly happy with. Building my future is progressing a little bit slower than I was hoping for, but it’s undeniably progressing. I’ve made connections, met many amazing people and musicians – in fact, I had several opportunities to talk to people whom I greatly admire*, and to connect with them in a meaningful and lasting way.
And even though I was busy as hell, always either preparing for an audition, a trial, or both at the same time, I managed to find something truly valuable: something that I’m passionate about and that can earn me a good living in the not-so-distant future. Without further ado, let me present to you…
My YouTube channel!
That’s right, I finally started to make the educational videos that have been vaguely swimming about in my brain for the last few years. I’ll embed the two videos that I finished last year right here:
The good news is that I’m really happy with the end result of both of these. I can watch them without getting secondhand embarrassment, which for someone like me is huge. I’m genuinely proud of what I’m doing here, and I’ve received fantastic feedback too. The less good news is that production is very slow at the moment. I posted the first video in August, the second in November, and several months passed between the filming and editing of both of them. I don’t want to be hard on myself, but I do realise that, in order to really build something here, I need to work on how I, well, work on these.
All that said though, I’m very pleased with myself for finally starting to get these videos out there at all! They represent what I consider my vocation: to be a music communicator (I really like this word – I adapted it from “science communicator”, a.k.a. someone who explains science in layman’s terms in an engaging way) and do my part in changing the way we think about western classical music. And not just that – my goal is to branch out from there, to make a difference in people’s lives, and ultimately change the world for the better, in my own small ways. I’m not claiming that classical music is the only music that can change lives, obviously. However, no one can deny that there is something about this music, about playing it with so many other people and sharing it with even more people out there, that is truly special.
And now for the inevitable bit of self-promo: if you haven’t checked out my channel yet, I’d be really grateful if you could subscribe, and maybe even leave a comment on any of the videos! My goal for this year is to reach 100 subscribers, so you would really be helping me out. 💕
Overall, I look back on 2018 with fondness. I took my first steps in the world of “adulthood”, and I think I did a pretty good job. The feeling of being a child among professionals hasn’t yet gone away completely, but it’s not as overwhelming as it used to be either. Most importantly, I feel that I have found a strong belief and confidence in my skills as a musician, and my value as a person. While that won’t provide me with a salary (just yet), I think it’s an essential foundation to have. Plus, I cannot stress enough how much I value the connections I made during that year. I found new friends in the most unlikely places, friends who are amazingly inspiring and truly wonderful people.
Firstly, I cannot believe that 2019 is two months old already. Geez. It feels like I only need to blink twice more and it’ll be 2020 already!
Joking aside, while this year started rather slowly (and with a nasty cold) for me, I do have big plans. Most of all, I will continue to work on the foundations that I’ve begun to establish, meaning that I’ll do my best to make more videos and update the blog more often. Some changes will be made too; I’m working on something pretty big which will hopefully be up and running by the end of March.
I’ll also work to eliminate the biggest problem that I currently have: my vagueness. I have lofty goals and expectations for myself, plans and projects that sound great in one sentence, like “I will reinvent concert culture”, or “I’ll make these great workshops for and with kids/teens”, or “I’ll work with the big names in the industry to put on great classical concerts for the widest audience possible”… but once it comes down to details, my mind goes blank. I’m good at rough outlining, not so good at working out the specifics. In a way, solving this problem will be another step from childhood to adulthood for me; to me, a true “grown-up” is someone who’s able to take their dreams and turn them into tangible reality. And once I manage to do that, I’ll be able to actually get going as a music communicator.
Speaking of the blog, though: I know I’ve been very patchy with my updates, and I keep promising to be better, but end up not delivering. For that, I truly apologise. It’s not that I don’t enjoy running the blog – to the contrary! However, I think that somewhere along the line I imposed too many restrictions on myself. I hesitate to write entries about stuff that is purely personal, because I feel that people won’t care, or that it’s not as important as addressing more general themes in the world of western classical music. But that’s a bit silly, isn’t it? Because at the same time, I feel very strongly that classical musicians aren’t personal, or better yet, honest enough. I get this feeling when I read interviews, when I come across self-promotion on social media. It all feels like a performance, in the worst sense of the word. It feels fake, and it makes me deeply uncomfortable.
I suppose this means that, in order to update the blog more regularly, I’ll be writing about these topics more often. I really hope you’ll still enjoy reading those entries.
I don’t say it often enough: I’m so, so grateful for all of you who read my blog, be it regularly or once in a while. Your time is precious, and the fact that you choose to spend it on my musings means the world. And those of you who left me a comment, please know that you truly put a spring in my step – I often go back and read through them when I need a pick-me-up (and the fact that one of you actually saw me playing as part of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra last year and decided to message me about it is still one of my highlights of 2018!). This year, I’ll do my best to up my game and make this blog even more worth your while.
But what about you – what are your plans for 2019? How are those new year’s resolutions coming along? And is there anything you’d like me to write or even make a video about? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you sincerely for reading, and I’ll be seeing you soon. 🎶
*Yes, one of those people is Benjamin Zander.
Food For Thought For 2019
📹 Benjamin Zander – The Transformative Power of Classical Music TED Talk – I’ll continue pushing this video in your faces until you’ve watched it. It’s SO IMPORTANT.
📹 Floyd Woodrow – The Warrior, The Strategist: How to find your potential and release it? TEDx Talk – I attended two of Floyd’s workshops last October and was blown away. Super North Star, here I come!
🎧 Elbow – Magnificent (She Says) – one of my favourite songs of all time, ever.
🗞️ The Titan’s Shadow – a VAN article about Daniel Barenboim and the abuse he’s alleged to subject his musicians and staff to. Was I horrified when I read this? Yes. Surprised? … not really. Please read and think hard about the way certain people (i.e. men) in western classical music are elevated beyond the realms of accountability.
🗞️ CLARA19 – How the city of Leipzig will celebrate the year of Clara Schumann’s 200th birthday! 🎂