I always wanted to go to music school and was encouraged to by my former high school band directors. But my parents and family just did not support it at the time yet music was basically all I did as a kid. It was a constant head scratcher and my chosen college track in writing never really seemed like the right fit. Music always felt right. The lesson here is young students need as much encouragement from their parents as they do from private music instructors about pursuing their passions in life. Failure to fail or to recognize your true talents can result in being stuck in the wrong career like I was for far too many years.
After 20 years spent as a newspaper journalist while endlessly moonlighting in music, I began switching gears back in 2005 after my young boys got a little older. Truth be told, I do not possess an advanced Masters or Phd in music teaching or performance. I do have a minor in music and a BA in professional writing, however, from Fitchburg State University. I played there in the collegiate concert and jazz bands under the direction of Conductor Frank Patterson for several years before being whisked off to the big Boston area clubs tour in a popular original alt. rock band, The Love Dogs. I spent many of my college nights and weekends jamming and creating with other musicians – just like they do at music schools. I always have loved playing in original music bands as they are the epitome of why you should play live music: to create and improvise.
Life has a funny way of putting people back on the right paths. What I feel I can bring to the table today as a live drummer, drum circle leader, and private instrumental instructor is a vast jazz, concert and jam band performance portfolio dating back more than 30 years that never wavered or collected dust. I am the type of musician and teacher who loves to perform live and always has. Over the past 10 years, I have built a respected and demonstrated music instructional business by partnering with local schools and parents in homes, specializing in jazz and rock drum set and group djembe drum circles. I also teach beginner trombone mostly to my own son right now, which I played throughout much of my younger student years along with drums right through college.
I also possess a broad understanding of music composition and theory as an active songwriter in bands and with my own studio compositions on piano.
What I’m trying to convey today in this blog post is that wisdom, life experiences and creativity also count a lot in music and teaching regardless of what that piece of paper says you earned. This belief is meant to take nothing away from prospective music degree seekers or many of my fellow musician friends who have earned such advanced degrees. The truth is many of those same well respected musicians and teachers have personally mentioned to me that I am a talented drummer and naturally-gifted teacher meant for this career track.
My point is skillsets earned through life experience can sometimes bear equal value. Make more exceptions. For example, the experiences I honed as a hiring and training news editor and intern supervisor in the newspaper industry for 15 years count and serve me well as a drum teacher today.
These many experiences combined with my life-long passion and active pursuit of music can’t only be taught in college. That’s just one pathway. It can also be mastered on the job and in life as someone who switched careers and never looked back.
Life is good.