Snapshot: Interview with Anna Darnell

Age: 25

From: Gray, GA

Job Title: Ensemble Production Coordinator

Favorite Brew(s): RoosRoast Coffee; Hop Slash

Carrie Rexroat: How did you get started with music?

Anna Darnell: My parents had this really old, clunky upright piano, and I used to pretend I was playing something grand on it. But, after starting lessons, I decided I didn’t like piano very much and didn’t practice. When the opportunity to be in the band arose I wanted to play the flute, but they handed me a clarinet instead and it took off from there.

CR: What was your original intent behind pursuing a career in music?

AD: When I started I was going to be an orchestra rockstar; I was going to be the best clarinetist in the world *laughter*. But, when I started college I realized out of all the performance paths one can take in music, none of them seemed to be a good fit for me. I knew I wanted to be in the music industry, so I just kept at it, but it wasn’t until I took an internship with UMS I realized all of my passions converged in the administrative field. So, I transitioned over into the work that I do now.

CR: That’s great! Have you ever experienced a stigma or projection of some sort, starting as a performer who eventually moved to administration?

AD: Oh yeah. Sometimes people think you’re a failed musician if you take a job like this. It was a transition for me, absolutely, because I had spent so much of my life dedicated to one craft that when I switched to something else, that stigma created doubts in me too.

CR: How did you overcome that?

AD: Well, I just absolutely love what I do. Every day that I’m here at the University of Michigan that’s reaffirmed, so that stigma just doesn’t matter very much to me anymore. I’m still a musician, just a musician who found another way.

CR: I’m so glad that you said that! For people who may be having a more difficult time with the transition, what’s some advice you can give to them about taking that leap of faith?

AD: Your happiness is more important than you’re led to believe. If some other part of what you do is your real, true passion, then what do you have to lose? If there are people who would bring you down for that, are those really people that you want to spend your time with anyway? So, just go for it. You’ll find people who support and appreciate what you’re doing. Eventually, you’ll feel more fulfilled in the process.

CR: That’s great, Anna! Was there at any point a time where you took advantage of any wellness resources when you were playing? What are some ways you would encourage people to take advantage of that?

AD: I had to take some time off in my undergrad for wrist pain from clarinet. I don’t have the same wingspan as Paul [Feeny], and my undergrad didn’t have any resources. There was no designated space to go. Students here are really fortunate to have those resources, so as for encouragement, I just want to say don’t play through the pain! Don’t be afraid or ashamed to get some help. It’s important to take care of yourself and ensure your livelihood.