Tough question

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by bigaggietrumpet, May 2, 2004.

  1. PJB

    PJB New Friend

    Dec 2, 2003
    Niceville, FL
    I am a professionally registered mechanical engineer (received my Bachelors in ME in 1974) who was "expected" to major in music. In my case, I chose to make music my lifelong hobby, not my vocation.

    I have a good friend who started his college experience as an engineering major, then switched to business. Immediately after graduation, he switched schools and completed a Masters in Music (History, I think). He's been a high school band director ever since--actually, at his old high school--but has performed constantly over the past 25-30 years. Today, he has his PhD and continues to teach. He's never used his business degree.

    The best advice I was ever given was to do the things that bring me joy. It took me a while to think through that--exactly, what is joy? As an engineer, I've had many rewarding--and some not so rewarding--experiences. As a trumpet player, I can say the same. However, on average, my professional pursuits have brought me "joy." In the end, we all have to decide for ourselves whatever it is that brings us the most joy. The decision is not always easy.

    One of the saddest things I ever heard was from a local college music professor who told me he never listened to music at home. Music was his job and the last thing he wanted to do at home was work at his job. So, he golfed. However, just imagine how sad that sounds--a musician who doesn't listen to music at home!

    Depending upon how much time you've already invested in your engineering education, you just might want to consider finishing that program, then pursuing a second degree in music, either at A&M or elsewhere. Who knows, you just might end up designing and building trumpets for a living!
  2. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    "Music was his job and the last thing he wanted to do at home was work at his job."

    That's not so uncommon as you might think. I had a conductor once who also never listened to music at home. I asked him why not and his reply was "because I can hear all of the little mistakes and it drives me nuts". He'd become a perfectionist and couldn't stand anything less.

    I agree, it's sad. But I can also see where he's coming from. I used to be able to go to musical shows and just "enjoy" the music. Now I find myself listening much more critically. Oh sure, I still enjoy the music (and perhaps appreciate the talent a lot more); but there's always that little bird that says "oh oh... that was a wee bit flat".

    I reckon you just have to accept some of the negatives and let all of the additional positives bury those negatives. Fortunately music is my hobby, not my career.

    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    Well, for a short period, music was my career. Yes, little things can drive you crazy if you let them. I went on the road a year with a Gospel group. Wow. It was great fun. I still was listening to Maynard and Bill Chase and tons of Gospel music.

    Perfectionists will be that way in music OR engineering. Two years ago I remodeled my basement. I moved walls, added a bathroom, etc. It was a good experience and I learned a lot as I went.

    One day I was standing in line at Lowe's to return some stuff I didn't need. Two guys behind were friends and were talking. One clearly mentioned that his "engineering bias" was getting too him. He built a wall in his basement and it was 1/2" off from being perfectly square. He tore down the wall and started over. He was a perfectionist as an engineer and was driving him crazy at home.

    Go rent "Mr. Hollands's Opus" and "Stand and Deliver" if you want to be inspired. MH Opus shows how music, and music ed, touches people you may not know you are touching. Stand and Deliver is a true story of an engineer who leaves his job and teaches AP math classes to an inner city school.

    Think about how many teacher's moved you in your life. I will be forever thankful to Gil Garcia (high school) and Wally Howe (elem school) for their inspiration. These two were great musicians that decided to teach -- and I am glad they did. They were selfless! Go to: and read the interview of Alan Wise, a former Maynard Ferguson Orchestra member whom I went to high school with talk about how Gil Garcia influenced him. Alan is now teaching.

    If no one "great" wants to teach, who is going to inspire the next generation?

  4. bigaggietrumpet

    bigaggietrumpet Mezzo Forte User

    Jan 23, 2004
    Nazareth, PA
    I would really like to thank everyone who has posted in this. You have all been a tremendous help and have given great advice.

    For those of you who might be curious, I will more than likely stay a mechanical engineering major, and starting next spring, add a music minor to that (I'm not totally convinced on a double major idea yet, the ME major is suicide enough as it is).

    Anyway, thanks again.
  5. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

    Nov 27, 2003
    Good luck Michael.
  6. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    Oct 26, 2003
    I didn't know you went to HS in Loveland, Colorado.

    I once wrote a letter to a former band director that changed the entire course of my life one afternoon. He never responded and I didn't really expect him to, but I wanted to let him know what sort of an impact he had on my life and that I wouldn't be where I am today if not for him.

    Long story short, I he pulled me in after school once because I lied and told him that I hadn't brought my crummy little cornet one day, when it was actually in the boxes at the back of the class. When he asked me why I lied and wasn't playing, I told him I didn't want to because I wasn't very good. He made me get my horn out and play and in a few short minutes under his direction, I was playing these little tunes with relative ease. He told me "Pat, you can play, you just don't practice."

    I took those words to heart, started practicing my butt off and started rapidly advancing in the chair placement try-outs and that success just made me crave more.

    Now, it's not about the competition or "winning" but I can't imagine where my life would have gone if I hadn't pursued music to the level that I have. I am far happier playing music than I am at my "other" job, that's for sure.

    Whatever you decide to do, just make sure that you can support yourself doing it.

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