It is hard to think about what I will be doing four years from now. Right now I am so concerned with getting through one semester at a time while I am here at SMU and sometimes to think about what I will do after college seems to be thinking too much ahead. I mean, after all, that’s a long time from now! Right? Well, it seem that way, but in actuality, I realize that just like my first semester here at SMU went by quickly so will the remaining seven semesters pass quickly. That is why it is very important for me to be thinking about my “Game Plan” after I graduate from SMU. How will I provide for myself? Better yet, how will I provide for my family if I should happen to be so lucky as to have a wife and children some day? Am I okay with having a job that doesn’t relate to my art that I will have been trained in for 4 years? These are important questions that need to be answered very soon!
I am currently pursuing a degree in Violin Performance from the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU. Originally I had planned to finish a second degree in engineering. My thoughts were that engineering would be a good back up plan if my dreams of being a concert violinist weren’t going to work out. Soon I realized that engineering was not for me simply because it was not something I enjoyed doing. However, I have always been very good at math and knew that I enjoyed the math portion of engineering but not necessarily all of the other aspects of engineering. I have since decided that I would be much happier to pursue a minor or major in math and also take computer programming classes.
While I am practicing and putting forth my very best effort into making a career out of my passion of playing the violin, I have realized that I have a very good contingency plan. With my background in math and computer programming, I have realized that, if not able to pull in enough income by performing, I would be very happy with finding a job in math and computer programming that somehow relates to musicians. In today’s day and age technology is rapidly improving and being used my all people of all professions, even musicians. There is growing a strong market for computer programmers for musical related needs such as metronome apps for smart phones, devices that will hold a musicians entire large sheet music library and display the desired music like a virtual music stand, music players and mixers, professional recording devices, etc. The list goes on and on of things that are needed by musicians today in the 21st century that require mathematicians and programmers to provide the needed tools. That’s why I think that I would be great in a field such as this because I would have the technological understanding needed to successfully develop technology for musicians but, still being a musician, I would also have the artistic understanding needed to make things appeal to musicians. And in todays world where our lives revolve around computers and technology, a computer programmer is always needed somewhere.
When I begin to think about my skills, I realize that I have a variety of things to offer but at the same time I have many areas in which I can improve. I am very open minded and love listening to new ideas that will keep things fresh and original. I also feel that I am very apt in the area of talking with people and making conversation that can lead to important topics to discuss. This ability to engage someone in conversation, I feel, causes both the other person and myself to rethink our own position and consider new I ideas.
Areas that I feel less experienced in are things such as being imaginative and flexible. I am a violinist. I chose performance as my career path in music because I am naturally not as creative and imaginative. That is why I enjoy playing the music that has already been written instead of creating my own music. Naturally being a performer, I tend to hide behind my career choice as an excuse to not be creative which is something I need to work on. One other skill that I am working on is being flexible. It is very tricky to be able to continue on even when things do not go as planned. Although it is hard to learn this skill, I realize that it is a very useful one to learn. Employers generally like people who can think outside of the box and still make something good come out of a situation where everything has gone haywire. These are things that I desire to work on to make me a more well rounded artist.
Staying motivated is something that is always a challenge for me. Depending on the situation, there are different things that keep me motivated.
When I am doing academic work, unfortunately, most of the time what keeps me motivated is the thought of not turning in work when it is due and receiving a grade of zero. I usually will procrastinate but once it comes time to get something done and I realize that there will be consequences if I don’t accomplish the work, I am suddenly motivated beyond belief. Watching Dan Pink’s video on motivation made me start to think about money as a motivator. I began to think about my motivation to do homework. I realized that if someone said that they would give me fifty dollars if I did a homework assignment as soon as it was assigned instead of waiting till the last minute, I would probably take them up on the offer.
When it comes to my improvement as an artist playing violin, I’ve realized that it is an altogether different story. I have such a passion for playing violin that I do not need to be bribed to practice and improve. My love for the violin is itself a good enough motivator for me to practice. I then again realized that if I was offered the same deal of fifty dollars for practicing violin sooner rather than later, I might take that person up on the offer but I would not need that offer to motivate me. I would practice sooner rather than later even if I wasn’t being offered money simply because I passionately enjoy playing violin and improving on the violin and am self fulfilled through playing violin.
When thinking about why I work or why I continue on in my field of study, I realize that there are a number of factors that keep me going. First and foremost, I have realized over the past years that my violin playing is something by which I am able to channel my deepest of emotions and effect other people for better. Anytime I had ever considered quitting violin, I remembered those touching experiences where people told me afterward that my performance meant so much to them and realized that I would not be able to live with myself knowing that I was blessed with an enormous gift and did not use that gift to its full potential to bless other people but instead only considered my selfish desires.
With that being the main motivation for why I do what I do, I find that there is a smaller reasons for why I stay motivated. Because I love playing the violin so much, I obviously want to constantly be in the mode of improving my playing. I find that having a competitive spirit helps me do just that. For instance, I always like having a stand partner in orchestra that is significantly more advanced than me. By sitting next to someone like that, I am constantly aware of everything that they are doing and consequently inspired to become just as good of a violin player as they are if not better. For me, this concept does not just work when thinking about a stand partner or even in music alone. It works when thinking about all aspects of life. I strongly believe that if I am the smartest and best among my peer group then I need to find new friends that are smarter than me. For me, I am not struck down when I come across someone who is better than me. Instead, I am immediately inspired to become better myself.
My work habits are something that is constantly changing. Depending on people that I am surrounded by, where I am, or weather I am working at a desk or in the car, I have different types of routines. First and foremost, I am a huge procrastinator. I constantly am saying to myself that I can do something later. Despite the fact that I put things off, knowing that there is always a deadline and that there are consequences for not meeting a deadline enables me to accomplish the required task in time. Once I actually decide to start the work, I find that I need either complete quiet to focus or minimal music. I have found that if I listen to music while studying, the music must be music without words. If the music has words to it, I invariably end up singing the song instead of focusing on my studies.
My violin practice habits are a completely different story. I have always loved playing the violin and I always will love playing the violin. Because of my unwavering love for the violin, as mentioned in my first blog, practicing is something that I am usually always wanting do sometimes even at the expense of accomplishing my academic studies. However, even though I love practicing, I also need to take periodic breaks. I am a firm believer in the old saying “Quality is better than quantity”. I find that after 2 hours of practice, I have been as productive as I ever will be. I then need to either take a nap or do something else for at least a two hours span before I return to the violin to resume practicing.
From having been in school almost three weeks, I have observed that I am much more efficient in my work if I have written out a schedule at the beginning of the day where I have planned out exactly what I am going to work at what time and for how long. This has become a great asset for me. There is something about writing down what I am going to do that makes me feel obligated to follow through with what I have set out to do.
I have always grown up with music as a core part of who I am. When I was about 4 years old, my parents had decided that I would learn to play the piano and that this learning process would be treated just as importantly as any other subject that I was learning in school. Just as it was mandatory that I learned Math and English, it was also mandatory to learn to play a musical instrument. My parents has established with me that I was going to start on piano and then after that, if there was another instrument that interested me, then I could start learning that particular instrument. One morning while watching TV on a Saturday morning, I happened to see famous violin player Vanessa-Mae performing Vivaldi’s four seasons on a white electric violin. Instantly I was captured! From her technical abilities to her clear passion and joy for playing the violin, I was nothing short of amazed. Instantly, I informed my parents that the violin was for me and that I wanted to play the violin for the rest of my life. And now here I am thirteen years later beginning a journey at SMU to pursue a degree in violin performance. That burning passion that I had when I was five years old is one of very few things that has remained constant throughout my life. In the past 18 years of my life, I have changed my mind about many things but one thing that I have not changed my thinking about is how playing violin was going to have such a profound impact on my professional career. For me, playing violin has not just become a hobby but an extension of my own person here on earth. For me, the violin has become a way for me to express my deepest feelings of fear, anger, love, joy and peace that I would not otherwise be able to communicate to others.
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