This piece of advice has been with me for as long as I can remember. From the moment I thought I had my chosen destiny planned out from a young age, I kept these words.
As a kid, my most vivid memories revolved around music and a trumpet specifically. The son of a professional musician and composer, you could say it was in my genes. Everyone in high school was freaking out about their future careers while I had my hands behind my head with not a worry in the world because I had it all figured out. Or so I thought. I had gotten into jazz in high school and had created opportunities to form some groups and play in various bands around town, and I loved it. I had created an impressive “street rep” throughout Arizona that got me a lot of gigs. Before the age of 18, I had won many awards and played in some of the most prestigious venues like Lincoln Center in New York City, Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Vienne Festival in Paris, Umbria Music Festival in Venice, you name it. Not to mention receiving a full tuition scholarship to a jazz conservatory in New York City. Life was good. Little did I know, moving to New York City would be the decision that changed my life forever.
Alone, 18, and naive, like a deer in headlights.
I was finally on my own, and music was my job, no longer my hobby. I had become a slave to it. Going through the day to day classes just wasn’t what I expected it to be. Playing for money because I had to, made me turn off the creative switch in my head. Not even a year and a half in and it was eating me up. My playing suffered, my confidence suffered, and I didn’t know why. Things weren’t the same for me. What had changed? I asked myself this question every morning and night for two years. It wasn’t long before I dropped out. A failure. Back to living with my parents. But if only I knew back then that it was a start to a new beginning. I spent my free time searching for what happened to my talent, my passion. With no luck, I gave up. I stopped playing professionally and decided to focus on myself as a whole.
I had to take a step back, and look at my life. What made me happy? What was I good at besides playing music? What else was I good for? I have always been extroverted, and always loved talking to people. Looking back at my life so far, every success was a result of help from others, and the relationships I have made along the way. I am where I am today because of the generosity of others. Back in my junior year of high school, I had spent a little over a month at Berklee College of Music for a summer program. Without a doubt, there were people better than I was. But, without even thinking about it, I had taken the skills I had, made clear I had something to offer, and created more relationships than I can remember. Leaving the program, I created a nationwide network with some of the nation’s most talented kids. I was eating lunch with the big boys and I knew it, and it felt good to have that sort of power. By creating those relationships, they have paid me back tenfold. My whole life I had created these relationships and networks but never noticed; that was my calling. Although I love playing music, it was never supposed to be my job. The moment I had taken the life of a musician, was the moment I realized I was a slave to it. I realized that my non-musical talents could be used outside of the music business. The relationships I have made have shaped who I am, where I have been, and what I have done. It’s not what you know but who you know. These words couldn’t be more true.