Max Mueller

From: Cleveland, OH

Age: 25

Job Title: Composer and Educator; Cellist

Beverage Drinking: Trader Joe's Harvest Blend Tea

"I used to teach this one particular cello student, and she told me one day that she wanted to play in the LA Phil. So I told her, ‘that’s great, but don’t reject everything else.’ I know a lot of talented musicians who reject the wedding jobs, playing for a crappy band, and they reject it all because they’re so focused on winning an orchestral job. It’s like people are only focused on the center of the bullseye. They only want to hit the center and they reject the rest of it. But I think that’s wrong. For me, I want to own the entire dartboard, because I will not disempower myself by aiming for one target and one target only. That seems silly to me, because if you really are willing to take the things like the wedding jobs, you are useful to your immediate community.

Also, I told my student, ‘you are not entitled to resources just because you are talented.’ Many of the musicians that I know could afford to unearth their musical abilities, and had the resources to discover their musical talent. Now, a kid living the barrios probably has just as much talent and potential, but doesn’t have those resources to get that kind of education. And for a lot of those people who had those resources, it generates feelings of entitlement. No no. You are obliged to be a goodwill ambassador for your community because you were lucky enough to unearth a skill and really cultivate it. It’s a skill that makes people happy, it entertains them, it educates them, it does all this stuff, so you need to use it to do good, okay? It’s fine if you want to be in the LA Phil. I totally support that, I’m not saying don’t go after that dream. But it’s not the only thing. Use music towards an end that it will make people who aren’t a musician, respect musicians. That’s what is important to me."

Advice to Others: "Look back to your childhood. I feel like I often draw from moments of inspiration where I felt no judgement, and most of those moments were in my childhood when I was inventing and imagining. Usually that child is smarter than I am now, I guarantee it. It’s not a hippy dippy, lazy, secret Oprah way out, because the things you responded to at that age, you still respond to, you’re just less aware of it because it could be buried beneath layers of social judgement or layers of indoctrinated ways of living. Just involve those moments from your childhood into your adult life."

Life Mantra: "Stamina is my favorite word. I’m standing at the end of the day, always."

Cause to raise awareness to: Improving the way people are educated

Is Inspiration vital to success, or are they separate?: "I think the fact that you are open to be inspired is a success. A lot of people are so focused on money. Money, for me, is to just keep me free and flexible, but a lot of people view having money, and getting money to get more money, as success. My view on success is just different."