Merry Christmas to all. I have spent a wonderful day at home with my family and spent some quality time with my horn and a few new Method books I got for Christmas.
In order to be a successful musician I need a written document that maps out how I plan to live my life as an artist. To lead a successful life, I need to have the opportunity to make art, I need to have the means with which I can support my family and myself, I need to be able to enjoy my life and have a sense of making an impact in the world.
First plan of attack:
I plan on working really hard during college and exploiting every opportunity to expand my musical abilities and musicianship. This will come from taking advance theory and aural skills courses and putting in much more work than the minimum in order to truly excel in these areas. This also includes immense amounts of focused practice time. I will take advantage of every opportunity to perform for others and even create some of my own for myself. The primary focus during my six planned years of post-high school education is to win and orchestra job. I will begin taking auditions regularly as a junior and persist for the next four years. During that time I can supplement my income through teaching private lessons in local schools for 35$ and hour or 20$ a half-hour. During my senior year I will be applying to Grad schools. I currently plan on applying to Northwestern, New England Conservatory and Rice. Rice is my top choice due to their extremely high orchestral placement rate. To facilitate getting in to Rice, I will try to keep in touch till Bill VerMeulen and take at least one lesson with him every year. I also plan on attending summer festivals during most of my summer breaks to gain experience, knowledge of rep and expand my musical horizons.
Secondary plan of attack:
If the primary plan fails and I do not win an orchestral job before the end of my second year of Grad school, I will invoke plan B. In addition to all that is stated above, during my four-year residency at SMU I will earn a minor in Arts Entrepreneurship and Arts Management. These two degrees will help me form ideas and plans on other ways to make a living in the music industry without holding a full-time orchestra job. I will study how to turn a small ensemble into a business and how to manage a professional job. Both of these are conduits for me to support my family and myself while I am still auditioning for orchestral jobs. I can use the many contacts that I have made over the years to plan gigs and bring together performers. In addition I will take the subs audition in the city I live to get freelance gigs to supplement my income. I can also increase my studio size to subsidize a larger portion of my income with private lessons.
I will be performing with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra on October 26 and 28.
The repertoire for the concert will be:
- Stravinsky – Requiem Canticles
- Bartok – Viola Concerto with Roberto Diaz
- Strauss – Don Quixote with Roberto Diaz and Andres Diaz
The Concerts will be held in Caruth Hall at the Meadows School of Arts on the SMU Campus.
Friday October 26 at 8:00 pm
Saturday 28 at 3:oo pm
Skills are the tools that we develop over a lifetime to enable us to navigate life. I see the next four years of my life to a time to develop the skills I will need to navigate the professional world and provide for my family. My dream is to play in a symphony orchestra and to teach students privately. I already have started to develop many of the skills related to playing the Horn, but I still have a long ways to go before I will have all the tools I need to facilitate my art. To further perfect my horn playing, I will seek out the expertise of several world-class horn players, starting with those that work right here in Dallas. I also plan to further enhance my knowledge of music theory, history and repertoire. In the professional world I will also need the skills of entrepreneurship and business management. Fortunately, the Meadows school of music offers a great minor meant to develop these exact skills. I am extremely excited to spend the next portion of my life enriching myself with all the knowledge that SMU has to offer.
Each of us gets up every morning, but why? What motivates us to get out of bed and face each day? I am motivated by the excitement of improving. I am energized much more by noticing even the smallest amount of improvement in myself than I succeeding in any sort of competition against others. As a freshman in college, most students find large numbers of skills to learn and master along with the massive amount of literature to familiarize yourself with extremely daunting, but to me it is exciting to set how much I GET to learn in the next four years. Every time I sit down to learn a new excerpt or improve on a skill, I visualize myself mastering the task to increase my motivation. Somehow it is comforting to know that I have four full years to make all of this progress as a musician. When I sit back and take stock of everything that I’ve learned in the past four weeks, it is absolutely exhilarating to ponder what is in store for me for over the next four years. I will take these four years one step at a time and enjoy every moment, but I know that as long as I stay focused, I will accomplish all that is set before me.
Whether we realize it or not, each of us lives our lives according to a set of values. These values influence our actions every day and shape our character and work ethic. Some people may value numerical markers of success such as grades, but other people may value the opinions of others. One can learn a lot about their character when they start asking themselves deep questions.
As a musician I value the utmost musical excellence whether one is performing in front of thousands or in front of a class of kindergarteners. There is no reason to say that any one performance of a piece is less important than another. Related to that value, I am extremely competitive, but not against my colleagues. What is the purpose in trying to become better than those around you? Even once you surpass others by analytical standards such as notes, rhythms and intonation, how can you even begin to measure superiority in the selective areas of musicality? I compete against a standard of musical perfection. While it is much more difficult to win a competition when opposing perfection, it is to easy to become to complacent when surrounded by mortal human beings that make mistakes just like you do. This value allows me to collaborate with others at a much higher level because I don’t get caught up in the cutthroat hostility that plagues many other music skills. I would rather lose an audition to a horn player I collaborated with, then us both lose to a somebody else because we spent too much time tearing each other down instead working to be the best we could be. I am truly blessed to be part of such a fine horn studio here at SMU, so I want to learn as much as I possibly can from these gifted people that I am surrounded by.
Everyone has a purpose for going to college. Whether that purpose may be to please their parents or to become the next Bill Gates, this purpose is driven by their individual values. One of my aspirations in life is to start a family and be able to support it with my art. My purpose for attending SMU is to develop the skills necessary to support my family by doing what I love to do. One might argue that I would be better off with a more secure profession, but I truly that the man that loves his job never works a day in his life. I believe that I will be the greatest husband and father that I can possibly be when I am doing what I love to do. With these thoughts in mind, I will work diligently for the next six years to make this dream possible. I do not desire fame or fortune, just musical excellence and a family to support.
My values are the forces that drive me to push through all of the busyness of college life and allow me focus all of my strength towards becoming a better musician. Without our values, we are nothing.
This past week I read two different selections pertaining to practice and work ethics in order to further contemplate my own views and habits. The first was selections from Ken Bain’s book, What the Best College Students Do, and the second was from Patty O’Grady’s book, “The Twitter Generation: Teaching Deferred Gratification to College Students. Both of these selections highlighted some things that I already do in my everyday routine, but I was also introduced to a few new ideas that I will be utilizing in the future.
The first article discussed strategies to increase learning retention. This selection cited numerous studies that concluded that some of the more unorthodox learning techniques proved to be more effective. One study concluded that a student learns more when he is asked to perform, even if he isn’t properly prepared than the student who studies for a much longer period of time. As a musician I spend a fair amount of time in the practice room working out the nitty gritty techniques, but I also dedicate a large chunk of time everyday to running through excerpts and solos. Even if there is no one around I visualize myself in front of a panel at an audition or concert hall and performing for hundreds of people. This is the most valuable portion of my practice time because I get to examine if my time spent practicing is paying off. If it isn’t, I then get to troubleshoot and figure out the problem. Practicing for extremely long periods of time isn’t nearly as beneficial as practicing in several smaller, intense bursts. I will practice for a period of time and then go work out or work on my piano skills to give my lips a rest. When I return after a little bit of physical exercise, I feel invigorated and mentally prepared to focus in for some deep practice.
A typical day in the life of Luke Baker looks something like this. I’ll wake up around 6:30 to shower and get ready for the day. At 7:00 I grab a quick bite to eat and then go over to Meadows to practice for an hour before my 8:00 Music Theory class. Depending on the rest of my class schedule for the day I’ll spend another Half hour practicing before I go to another class and workout. At 12:00 I’ll gab some lunch and go to my Spanish class and any other afternoon music classes. Once I’m done with classes, I practice for a few more hours, stopping periodically to take a break and get some homework done. In the afternoon/evening I will typically have a wind ensemble or orchestra rehearsal. If not, I’ll get together with some of my fellow students just for the sake of making music together. As the time approaches 7:00pm I’ll finish and get ahead with any homework I may have left and possibly head back to Meadows for a late evening practice session.
One of the other studies suggested that you practice in different locations to increase stimulus and association. I had never considered this before, so I tend to practice in the same practice room day after day. In the future I will be implementing this technique into my practice regime. Rather than always practicing in the same practice room, I’ll spend time playing in my dorm, other classrooms, and the larger halls when they are available.
The second referenced a study where young children were put in an empty room with a marshmallow, and promised that they would receive a second marshmallow if they could wait for fifteen minutes without eating the marshmallow. This seems like a rather curious study but it truly measured each child’s determination and ability to manipulate their desires. Follow up studies with that same group of children concluded that those children who were able to wait for the second marshmallow scored on average, 210 points higher on the SAT. These children at an older age were also more responsible and more successful. As a musician, I believe that my intense determination is my greatest asset. I am very passionate about making music and believe that music deserves absolute excellence whether it is being played for a small audience in an informal setting or at Carnegie Hall in the presence of thousands. My determination drives me to practice for countless hours in order to master the skills needed to make beautiful music on the Horn.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I hope that it has given you interesting insight into the life of a passionate musician. If you have any questions about my work habits, feel free to comment below, and I will happily answer any questions you may have.
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When I was younger I didn’t understand art. My grandma would take me to museums and try to read every word of every exhibit while I just wanted see everything in five minutes and leave. As I entered Middle school I didn’t particularly care about music; I wanted to be a percussionist so I could just bang on things all day long. But some how I ended up playing the trumpet. I didn’t particularly like the trumpet, but I did like to be good at things. So I worked hard and quickly rose to the top of the section. Halfway through the year, I tried to switch to euphonium because it seemed like a cooler instrument at the time, but my directors saw talent in me and put me on French Horn against my will. Yet again I excelled simply because I wanted to be good at something. It wasn’t until my freshman year that I developed a love for music. I discovered the world of classical music and loved listening it because it was so diverse. Playing the Horn became everything that mattered to me. I desired to make music that would move others in the same way that classical music had moved me. Most modern teenager’s think that classical music is all the same and really boring, but that’s only because they haven’t been exposed to the diversity and complexity of it. As it came time to start looking at college, I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else for the rest of my life other than making music. It had grown to become a part of me that had to be fed and given chances to emote.
“The man who loves his job never works a day in his life.” Confucius
This quote applies to my life, not because I don’t want to work, but because I could not be fulfilled if I didn’t have a passion for my work. I just started my undergraduate degree at SMU, and I plan to spend the next four years of my life developing the skills to fulfill the dream.