I'm a musician, audience building coach and leader of a groundbreaking movement in classical music career creation.
As a kid, I dreamed of playing my horn professionally and getting paid for it. Navigating that path was a solo job having come from parents who knew nothing of the music world. My path wasn't straight by any means. I had many teachers along the way who weren’t the right fit and made my way through three schools that didn't fit either.
For a long time, I lived the "city life" in Chicago. I supported myself doing freelancing, teaching lessons, walking dogs and waiting tables. I eventually built up my teaching studio and played with Civic Orchestra, the top regional orchestras, took lots of auditions and subbed regularly with the Chicago Symphony. I won a job and left Chicago. I quit that job and returned to Chicago. I played as a guest principal horn in the Beijing Symphony (in China). I played in opera, ballet and musical pits. Occasionally I had money. Mostly I had none. I've been broke. My apartment burned down and I lost everything. I even moved back in with my parents at age 30. All this struggle because I had an insatiable hunger for the orchestral experience... and because I truly believed that's all I could do. I mean, what else can a classical musician DO?
Soon after returning from Beijing, I came close enough to winning an audition that I was offered a "full-time sub" position with the North Carolina Symphony. This was a BIG move for me - letting go of my addiction to Chicago and all the opportunities I perceived were there. It was in Raleigh that I experienced what it was like to have a full-time job in a busy traveling orchestra. I met a great guy, got married and started a family. I worked much less to spend more time with my daughter... finally had the space to STOP and BREATHE... and look around to see the world from a different perspective.
I saw the struggle of classical musicians. I vividly remembered my own struggle. I had many conversations with various classical musicians I knew, past and present. Listened to their stories. Listened to what they wanted...that they were often afraid to say out loud. I felt for them. And then I looked around online and saw that more than a few classical musicians were doing unique things. What did THEY see that I didn't see for years? What did they know that I didn't know back when I was trying to carve out a career? I set my sights on finding out exactly that. This search led to starting Crushing Classical, a movement dedicated to the conversation about creating your own unique career as a classical musician, and a podcast interviewing brave and creative musicians who are doing it now.
Currently in the fourth season of Crushing Classical, the podcast has had over 80,000 downloads and continues to grow.
I now coach musicians both 1:1 and in group programs on the most important and overlooked thing when setting out to create their careers - building an audience. Little did I know before starting Crushing Classical, what I would discover from building my own engaged audience from scratch: audience building is the first step in the freedom to create in your career.
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"You either take control of your love life or it takes control of you. It’s that simple."