A Little Self-Interview After A Not-So-Little Hiatus...

Updated: Jul 24

One-thousand and two days have passed since my last post.


Once I enrolled in graduate school, blogging inevitably fell by the wayside. In all honesty, I'm quite content with the long hiatus, especially since this is just a fun platform for me to channel a different creative outlet outside of the daily rigor. That said, I figured I'd keep this lighthearted with a series of self-interview questions derived from Alyson B. Stanfield's fourth edition of I'd Rather Be In The Studio. If you're an artist in any way, shape, or form: I encourage you to ask yourself these questions as you continue navigating your expressive path!



 

When is the first time you realized you were an artist?


I think I've had glimmers of artistic recognition but never any feeling that's fully taken over my ego. After recitals in undergraduate schooling were big pivot points. Same with my first series of woodwind doubling gigs after breaking through the threshold of finding steady-enough freelance work.


When someone is viewing your work for the first time, what do you hope they'll see in it? Or, what do you want them to say about your work?


Whether it's coming to a live performance or stumbling upon my awkwardness in a publicly shared audio/visual recording of a flute work... I hope they feel a sense of joy in listening and I hope they hear soul behind each note expressed.


Who are some artists that you admire and why? What is it, specifically, about their work that draws you to it?


Firstly: I admire the works of my close friends and colleagues that are in the same boat (ish) as I with being able to create and share as much as possible in the classical/contemporary idioms. Add educator simultaneous to that and you've got powerhouses doing so much good in our industry that I highly admire. I also like to draw from artists of different outlets, all very much outside the flute world.



What is it like to be an artist in your community?


Rochester:


I've been a freelancer in Rochester for 7 years now. The fact that it's been 7 years (& counting) is both a blessing and quite unreal to imagine. Time is flying by. I'm incredibly indebted to those head honchos that have included me and have had faith in my skills throughout my time in such a reputable arts area from the beginning; special shout-outs to Julie Covach, Andy Pratt, Debbie Parker, Kevin Karnisky, Kathy Liperote and Carolyn Rivello.


The Finger Lakes:


In September 2021 I began a new venture as the director of bands at a small school district along Cayuga Lake. I didn't find an apartment until October of that year and the 80 minute commutes until the big move were incredibly depleting of the remaining energy I had after a full day of teaching. Building a program nearly from the ground-up as their fifth band director in the last six years, in addition to the current-turned-aftermath of Covid-19, has been nothing short of challenging. All educators are right when they say that the students make it worthwhile and really compel you to be the best version of yourself. The days flew by. Hard to believe, but the school year flew by even quicker! Before we knew it, the end of the school year arrived. Now that we're on summer vacation, I'm finally feeling like I'm beginning to get acquainted with the area. The majority of our faculty & staff commute to our school district from either Auburn or Ithaca. Ithaca has a pretty reputable arts scene and I've always thought of it as a no-brainer to move there. However, even with my kind salary, it's still incredibly expensive so that option will be ruled out for a while. I'll be sticking with Auburn which has a few perks: closer commutes to Rochester for gigs and time with friends, closer to my hometown whenever I need to stop by, and I'm incredibly close to Owasco and Skaneateles Lake. It wasn't until summer vacation hit where I realized just how much I'm a fan of rejuvenating on my time off around the lakes. Especially Skaneateles! In due time, I hope I'll become even more acquainted and affiliated as a musical artist in the area (though I've learned this year to be in no rush).


If you could take a fantasy artist vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be? Your goal would be to soak in art history or to make your own art. Where would you go?


I'm very naive to the history and culture behind it, but I keep seeing all these influencers advertised on my socials touring around the Palace of Versailles in France! It seems like an architectural dream and overall like it would be really neat to explore. Maybe someday! Alongside, as cheesy as it may sound, I really fell in love with the arts scene in Boston when I visited for the first time last Spring. Two nights was not enough and I'm on a mission to head back & explore more. In a perfect world: performing as a flutist in any sort of contemporary group setting - at both locations - would be a dream come true.



How do you promote your art?


My promotion has been very few & far between, especially this year... let alone the long hiatus I had beforehand to focus on grad school. Last year was an incredible amount of focus on rebuilding a 7-12 instrumental music program. Whenever it's time to promote, I do it here on my website and occasionally over on my socials (IG | YT)


Why are you drawn to the media that you use?


Presently, I have this personal website of mine which needs a lot of TLC. I've also got Instagram where I will occasionally post some flute snippets. Finally, I've got a YT channel where I mainly post unlisted videos. Those clips are more-so used for audition and digital portfolio materials. I'm merely drawn to all of these because they are public platforms in which I can share my craft to my heart's content and however frequently/infrequently I wish to do so.



What attracts you to the main subjects & themes that often appear in your work?


For flute performance (full performances), I'm mainly drawn to repertoire of more unsung heroes and contemporary works. It's like my little hipster-haven corner of the internet that I'm presently quite content with. Otherwise I'm honestly just posting about the places I've been, life's joyful moments and travels when I can take advantage of those few & far between moments. Lastly, I'm posting me messing up in the middle of run-throughs in hopes that another artist may stumble upon it and both laugh at me & learn from me that mistakes happen and they're okay. Us classical musicians are such perfectionists and set the bar really high (almost unhealthfully high) for ourselves. It's okay to be transparent and change the narrative that mistakes are organic and are bound to happen; like happy little accidents (thanks be to Bob Ross).

Tell me about the classes that you teach and your interaction with students.


2021-2022 School Year:

7-8 Band | 9-12 Band | 7th Grade Music | 7-12 Woodwinds/Brass/Percussion Lessons


I'm also grateful for the time I got to work independently with students in preparation for NYSSMA solo festival. The one-on-one coaching is by far one of my favorite things about being a music educator!


In 2022-2023 I'll be teaching the following:

6-8 Band | 7th Grade Music | 9-12 Band | 6-12 WBP Lessons | HS Music Theory

(my incoming 6th AND 7th graders will be brand new to learning instruments... thanks, 'rona)

(Optional 9-12 WBP lessons -- might sound like an odd concept but will work given that I'm the only instrumental educator in my district)

*** This excludes extracurricular ensembles (jazz band, chamber groups, pit orchestra ) ***



How has technology helped you market your work?


It's definitely helped just put my art out there for more eyes to see than I could ever imagine (especially if technology weren't as advance as it presently is). I'm grateful for it, but it's advancing way beyond my abilities of being able to grow alongside it. It always feels like I'm falling far behind with it and struggling to keep up with it. In some ways, it's this notion that makes me feel very grateful that the work I do with the kids is predominantly symphonic, hands-on, and incredibly kinesthetic/interactive. I'm hoping to get a better grip on it over time while balancing work and prioritizing health so I can continue to do what I love most :)

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