As I was driving home from playing a gig tonight, I thought about how glad I was that I am still a “gigging” musician. I remember before I started teaching so many people said, “You’ll never have time to play anymore”, etc. I always thought that if I really wanted to, I would make sure that I had the time to do it. And, so far (4 years into teaching) I have been successful in continuing to play.
Now, I know there are a lot of us who did not continue to play much after college, and if this applies to you, let me first say that that is okay. My comments here are not to chastise you for not being a working musician. However, if you find yourself wishing that you were still playing, I encourage you to get back into it. You do have time…you just have to make it. Don’t make excuses!
That being said, I would like to express my feelings about being a “practicing musician.” 1. If I continue to play, I am able to relate my experiences as a musician when I am conducting and teaching. I feel this greatly helps my students because I can easily bridge the gap between musician and conductor. And, as a side note, I have always considered myself much more of a musician than a conductor! 2. Students need to know that you are a great musician. If your students see that you can play, then that gives validity to what you are “preaching” on the podium. Case in point, a former student told me this year that his opinion of me completely changed the minute that he saw me play with my group at a summer concert at a local park. It was my first year, and according to him, his first impression of me was “Who is this guy?” And apparently, after he heard me play, he said that he knew that I knew what I was talking about. It’s one thing if the kids hear you play during school in rehearsal or something, but for them to hear you perform as a professional musician is extremely validating. I have always believed that, in order to be a great teacher, you must first be a great musician. If we do not continue to perform and be great musicians, then how can we continue to be great teachers? So, dust off those horns, and get back at it!!