Catherine Baker

From: Houston, TX

Age: 25

Instrument: Flute

School: University of Southern California, GC Flute Performance

Favorite Drink: Cafe Au Lait with a little cinnamon

"When Jim told me to take not just a week off, but weeks off from playing last year, I was terrified. I had never done that before. Of course I had taken some time off before, but once I extended it to a point where it was uncomfortable I think it was good because I started hitting the fresh points where my instrument became new again. I threw away all of those “bad habits” that we all have, and once I went back to it, I learned how to play my instrument again in such a healthy way, rather than trying to force myself to stop all of my bad habits. Sometimes we just need more time to recover, and people are really uncomfortable with that. People think that they’re not going to be able to get their sound they had back. Of course you will get it back. I mean how many years have we all been playing, you don’t just lose that. But, it’s OK to be uncomfortable-you just have to stay with it."

Advice to others: "Sit down and listen to your favorite performers, but don’t think about sounding like them. Think about what you like about them and then take it from there. Rather than comparing yourself, use things like that as your inspiration, because that is so hard to do when we are constantly trying to do better than everyone. But, if you take away the judgement from it, it frees everything up a little. It makes it more human that way."

How do you define Inspiration and Motivation? Are they related?: "Well...I feel like inspiration is coming from others or other things. You may see something that inspires you, or you may hear something that inspires you, and you take it from there which turns into motivation. I think motivation is internal and you create your own motivation from inspiration. They can be separate though, but it depends on whether or not you use your inspiration to help motivate you. You can choose to let the inspiration affect your motivation, or choose not to, and that’s the separation. People can just ignore a lot of great things that happen everyday and not take them into account for what they’re doing."

Quote/Mantra: “If you dream it, you can achieve it”-Ricky Mauro

Charity/Cause: Music for Autism

Do you think inspiration is of equal importance as success?: "It depends on what you think success is. Some people think that is winning a principal position in an orchestra, but nowadays that’s not realistic for just anyone. There are so many ways that we as musicians can be successful, and it depends on where you apply your inspiration. I think it’s always really important that you have inspiration because I think the inspiration makes you realize that there is not just one OK answer to being successful."