From: Shawano, WI/Emporia, KS
School: Graduate Certificate in Percussion Performance at USC
Favorite Drink: Dirty Chai with Soy, or just coffee
“A friend of mine from undergrad once told me that after he’s completed a recital, a concert or something like that, he looks back on the preparation time and asks himself if he wasted any of it. He asks himself, “was there a moment where I could have been in the practice room and wasn’t?” For me, I too want to look at the end result and see that I did not waste any time in my preparation, and I use that as my guideline for practicing. But more recently, I’ve been looking back and asking myself if I have wasted time living my life. I ask myself, “did I spend as much time as I wanted going hiking, or cooking, visiting my family, or was I just in the practice room?” More or less, I’ve been trying to look back and see where my wasted time has gone. If I’m not practicing, then going hiking, or reading, or cooking makes me feel like I'm balancing myself out and it makes me feel like I’m doing something productive with the things that I really enjoy. And of course, at the moment I am sort of stuck between what’s real life and what’s not because I’m in school, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t at least try and live my life and make the most of it.”
What has been a struggle for you?: "The talent/skill v.s. hard work is something I think about a lot. There are people who are talented, and that takes them a long, long way and they can put in a minimal amount of effort to keep a certain caliber of playing. Then there are people who are intrinsically hard workers. But, anytime I think about or talk about the concept of ‘struggle’, I never want to make it seem like my struggles are the hardest. My disadvantages and my advantages are things that have sort of shaped who I am and how I get things done, and everyone struggles with different things. I, as the hard worker, struggle with not having as much natural talent, but someone with a lot of natural talent may struggle with being diligent and being a hard worker. But, everybody has a struggle, everyone has their thing."
Advice to Musicians with a similar struggle: "The people we work with are people first. It’s really easy to forget that you are working with people with feelings and human emotions. We all have to do better to remember that."
How would you define Inspiration? How do you define motivation?: "I want to say that inspiration is external and motivation is internal, but I don't think that's entirely accurate or exclusive. I think they are overlapping, as I am inspired by many things and that inspiration often motivates me to do any number of things. Inspirations and motivations aren't exclusive to their realms, either. When I go to Disney hall and hear the Phil, obviously I'm both inspired by the quality of music and motivated to work hard to reach that level. I walk out the doors ready to hit the practice room, study some scores, and listen to more. Yet, at the same time, spending an early Saturday morning hiking in the San Gabriels inspires me beyond measure to do anything to share in that beauty, whether by experiencing the outdoors further, or taking that inspiration and joy back into the musical world."
Favorite quote/mantra?: "If you're not getting happier as you get older, then you're f*cking up." - Ani DiFranco
Charity/cause to raise awareness to?: A-T Children's Project for kids with Ataxia-telangiectasia
Hobbies: running, hiking, reading, traveling
How do you define success?: "The best way I can think of to define success is happiness. Success really isn't some sort of end goal, but is perhaps better described as working towards your goals and enjoying doing so. One person's version of success may be nothing to another person, or it may be unattainable for a third. Everyone has different versions of what their success is and how they value themselves. For me, I try to do things and create opportunities that will make me happy, both throughout the process of doing them and in reaching the goal. As I get older I find myself realizing that if I'm not happy, if I'm not enjoying what I'm doing, then I'm going to stop doing it. Music, family and friends, helping others, my various hobbies, these things make me happy. This is my life and I should be happy, so I should do those things that make me happy. Going back to what I said about looking back on my preparation time and asking myself if any of my time was wasted, or could I have utilized my time better, the same general question can be asked at the end of my life. Was any of my time spent unwisely, not working towards my happiness? Ultimately I think that will show my success."