David Ferneau

From: Des Moines, IA

Age: 25

Instrument: Trombone

School: MM in Performance at University of Southern California

Favorite Drink: Stouts, specifically the Freestate Oatmeal Stout

"The thing is that a lot of the most creative people have discipline. Jerry Seinfeld, for instance, is a hugely successful comedian, but he talks about when he was first starting out in that he would just write one joke a day, and regardless of whether or not it was terrible or pure gold, he would just write something. He talks about keeping a calendar, and every day he wrote a joke he would cross it off in a red X. So maybe they were all terrible jokes at first, but they build up and eventually he got better and better at it. I mean, when you see him everyone just thinks he’s so talented. But, no. For me personally, the more I interact with good professionals the more I just realize that yeah, they’re creative and they may be divinely inspired, but all of them have just such an incredible work ethic. They all work super hard. So if people think having discipline is a bad thing in the artistic world, I mean, I’m not sure how well they’re going to do."

How do you define inspiration? How do you define motivation?: "Actually, I’ve watched some YouTube videos of this guy named Elliot Hulse, and he’s a weightlifter, bodybuilder type guy. But he has a video on motivation vs. discipline. I think it’s a really interesting concept how motivation can really be fleeting. You can go to a concert or be in a master class and think to yourself, ‘I’m so motivated to do this!’ and then you work really super hard for a few days. But, after those few days you just burn out and it keeps happening. So, you can keep getting built up and then you fall down, then built up, then fall again. Hulse says that as opposed to thinking about trying to find motivation for what you’re doing, to instead have discipline. That no matter what, you woke up, got out of bed, and you’re going to do your long tones, etudes, excerpts, whatever, regardless of how you feel because it’s just what you do. I think thats really useful because I find myself falling into that trap a lot where I feel motivated to do something and get really excited and passionate about something, but it falls away really quickly. But, if I think about having discipline, it doesn’t matter what I feel because I’m just going to do something."

He has another video of how to build your discipline and start with something easy, like always take your shoes off by the door. Something little like that. You just have that one thing, and you do that every day for a few weeks and it eventually becomes part of your discipline. You just keep getting better at that, and then add on something else, and then build from there. I just think that’s been pretty interesting for me, as far as motivation vs. discipline goes. On the other thing about inspiration, I think that’s important as well because I think it’s good to have goals in life, and maybe I struggle at setting appropriate or concrete goals, because I never write them down, but I think it’s a good idea. Getting inspiration from professional musicians, or colleagues, or something you see on the street, whatever, I think that’s really useful in helping to define what you want, and then you use discipline to get to that. In that way they’re related, but I definitely wouldn’t say that they’re the same.

Advice to others: "The first thing that comes to mind is just that it’s ok to fail. I’ve taken a handful of auditions so far, and obviously I haven’t won them, but every single time no matter what my mindset is going into it, I always feel defeated if I don’t get called back to that next round. Those are the times I struggle the most. But, we have to understand that it’s ok to fail because it’s about how you recover from that. I also think it’s ok to have a backup plan. I’m still trying to figure out what my backup plan is, but, whatever it may be, I have to be ready if things don’t quite work out. But, of course, that doesn’t mean to not totally and completely give all of myself to what I’m trying to do, that’s not what I’m saying. Just, I think it’s good to have a backup plan."

How do you define success?: "I think you could define success as being happy but also setting and accomplishing goals and working towards them. There’s a TED talk about people who are happy and how they’re more productive and how they work better. Some people think just the opposite, that if they work better and achieve more that they’ll be happy. But, the video was saying that if people made the the choice to be happy, because I do think it’s a choice unless you have a true medical condition or whatever, people eventually will achieve success. I don’t think there is one standard of success, because it’s different for everyone, but I think happiness is an OK way to define success. For me, obviously a goal would be playing in an orchestra, but doing anything related to music and having that as a career would be great. It might not even be necessarily related to performing, but as long as it’s with music I will be happy."

Hobbies: weightlifting, powerlifting, ultimate frisbee, shooting free throws, reading great books