Updated: Nov 14, 2018
We are always growing in our lives. At least that's what I've always been told. My time spent pursuing my DMA has certainly lived up to that expectation. I'm coming to the end of this chapter and have been spending some quality time in my own head trying to distill the past 3.5 years into a concise post I could share with you.
What I have realized is that too much has happened to make that feasible. I married my wonderful wife, adopted a dog (best boy ever), changed instruments and my embouchure more times than I care to think about, suffered nerve damage on my lower lip, rediscovered a love for golf, found a new love for natural trumpet, and began getting my health back on track just to name a few. But through all of that my love of music and teaching never left me. It may have been beaten up a time or two but it's still there. And because of that I wanted to share the personal statement I wrote to Shenandoah Conservatory when I applied for my DMA program...
I’ve never been entirely comfortable with the idea of writing a personal statement. It always seemed to me to be like submitting a page from your diary and hoping that the college, company, or other faceless entity will approve of you and your innermost secrets. Maybe that was because I never really had anything to say that was worth writing about, or maybe I was too insecure to put myself out there. Really though, I think I just hadn’t grown up yet. I know what I want to say now and I don’t mind who reads it.
I want to be a professional musician. Now, I’ve said that since I was twelve but I think I just recently figured out what it really means to me. It means I want to impact peoples lives in a positive way. Music is an immensely powerful force in this world and I hope to learn how to control a little bit of it so I can help people. I want to give them a release from stress. I want to remind them of happier days and solemn times. I want to draw their deepest thoughts to the surface where they can interact with them in a way that they maybe haven't in a long time. I want to leave them a little better off than before they came to see me. Be it in a performance setting or through teaching, music can do amazing things.
The best way I feel to accomplish this goal is by pursuing a Doctorate at Shenandoah Conservatory. I have researched numerous schools for my doctoral studies and I keep coming back to Shenandoah. I love that Shenandoah is a world class school in a more intimate environment when compared with other world class universities and institutions. It guarantees a personal experience with the faculty that I believe is tantamount to a successful experience for me. I like to be involved in everything that I possibly can and I believe Shenandoah has the greatest opportunities for me. I have already been in contact with Dr. Nelson and Dr. Seipp and both have been wonderfully welcoming and forthcoming with answering any questions I have had. I can’t really see myself going anywhere else and am looking forward to the chance to study with them and continue my journey as a trumpet player.
When I have completed my time at Shenandoah I hope to find a place to teach trumpet at the collegiate level. Ideally I would someday have a tenured position and an active gig schedule as well. For a long time I wanted to do nothing but perform. I have come to realize that I want to be the guy who gets to come home to his family each night and not have to spend months on the road or living in hotel rooms. I’ve found that I have been blessed with a love of teaching, specifically teaching music, and that I want to share my love and my passion with my students. I have a small studio of private students here in Florida and watching them grow and achieve things I never even dreamed about at their age is a truly wonderful experience.
Whether it’s watching a student perform their first recital or get into college, be it playing a big band concert that brings back childhood memories for the audience or performing Taps at a Veterans Day service and bringing tears to a man’s eyes as he remembers a fallen friend, music is life and I want to make my life as full of music and trumpet as possible.
I would undoubtedly change a few things if I had to write it again but the message remains the same. I hope this might help some of you to realize that while we are all growing and changing throughout our lives, who we truly are and what we truly believe in doesn't have to. It can change if we want it to but that is up to us, not the world around us.