Category: Music

“Don’t quit your day job”

How often as a fledgling musician, when you were, say… Not too good yet? Or had a night of debauchery at the local pub and heard a sub-par version of Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” during karaoke after Patricia’s bad break up with Mark? You often hear murmurs of snickers from the crowd along with: “Wow, Patricia, don’t quit your day job.” Largely due in part to the fact that Patricia’s liquid courage removed her fear of ridicule due to her unrefined singing abilities, and everyone else’s influence of alcohol made them a bit kinder… Wait, no, that is not correct, it certainly made them quite a bit more unkind – which is why someone is telling Patricia to not quit her day job.

However, I would tell anyone who is a fledgling musician or a musician who is infused with passion for the art to never, ever, ever quit their day job – which, is a means of supporting themselves. Even if you’ve just premiered your best aria in Carnegie Hall, even if you just won the Cliburn as a pianist – don’t quit your day job. But also, don’t quit being a musician and pursuing your art as a hobby, as a career or as a personal journey to a higher version of yourself.


Because you need to eat. You need to live in a home. You are not a robot. You, unfortunately, are a human subject to biological processes. Musicians are not computer processors. And many who study even as a hobby find themselves forgetting to make time to care for their biological systems. (Any wonder, considering we are often making our lives so intertwined with technology?)

I’m pretty okay as a musician; I play pipe organ for two churches and also accompany with piano for various occasions and I maintain a private studio. Not huge, but I have a few students enough to say I have a studio.These are some of my music related ways of making my way in the world, but primarily, my main work is that of being an ESL teacher. I’m extremely thankful for the company I work with, Alo7, for rewarding great tutors for their excellent teaching efforts! If you are a musician like me, I would definitely recommend interviewing with Alo7 right now (if you have a bachelors degree and an ESL teaching certificate). By the way, we’re hiring right now!

The ESL crossover from my opera training is actually very practical. I spent a few minutes in class today working with Chinese students preparing for high level exams, and my knowledge of IPA from opera studies was able to get into those tricky vowels we often run into as native English speakers. Try saying “mine” and “horizon” sometime and take a special listen to the “i” sounds… Diphthongs are a crazy thing!

I’m in the company of some great musicians and composers by having a seemingly non-musical day job. Check out the list of musicians and composers who would also recommend not quitting your day job:

  • Philip Glass
    • He is probably the most famous and inspiring composers, who kept up a prolific composing life while maintaining a job as a plumber. According to an interview by Christina Patterson for the Independent, Glass was 42 when he began making more money through this music. Until then, he was driving cab and doing plumbing work to support himself.
  • Jon Nakamatsu was a German teacher who went on to win the Cliburn. His “day job” was a German language teacher at a high school.

Having stable day jobs did not preclude the aforementioned artists from building their craft and nurturing the gift within them. I’m not sure about you, personally, if you are a musician, but I feel sometimes the artistic community suffers from impostor syndrome if we don’t spend all of our time making music and building our craft.

If you stink at music, don’t quit your day job. If you’re awesome at music, don’t quit your day job. Because living must be supported by food and shelter, because we are biological creatures, we need this before we make any music. If music can eventually be your all encompassing day job, that is amazing! If it isn’t your all encompassing day job, that’s amazing too – because you’re still bringing something beautiful into the world while also being a responsible member of society. Stay whatever path you’re on to take care of yourself.

Long story short, do what you need to do and keep up your hustle: Keep your day job (or night job), my friends. Cheers!

Introducing: From Avant-Garde to Cabaret

imageHello all! With yet another Holy Week behind me, I now am focusing my efforts on performing a new set of works by the talented composer and pianist Dr. Timothy Melbinger. I am a mezzo-soprano soloist in his new set of works premiering on April 17th at 2 pm at Penn State Altoona. I invite you to join me for the performance of these works! Click here for more information.

Miscellaneous updates: I added “He was despised” to completed repertoire and began adding performance dates to completed repertoire. Check that out if you are so inclined and I updated performance dates.

Piano Lesson Oct 30th

Hello all! It is piano lesson day. Today we will continue working with Bach Sinofnia No 7 in e minor. I focused on bringing out the recurrence of the theme in whatever voice it appears in, which involves making sure finger legato is present and pliable so the line isn’t broken and holding tied notes to create a beautiful singing sound. Take a listen to András Schiff playing this sonfonia. We will be spending time with Beethoven at our next lesson. Check out my current study page to see what else I am working on. Tschüß!

2nd Week in February

Fun projects on the horizon this week:

– My voice teacher has arranged a coaching session for me this week with her voice coach. I’ll be coaching with a collaborative pianist/opera coach from Julliard on Friday! I’ll be singing Faites-luis mes aveux by Gounod and Sommermued by Schoenberg. This will be my second coaching session with her within the past year, she’s such a fantastic coach.

– If I survive studying for my German test, I’ll be writing a creative non-fiction story about the untimely demise of my great great grandparents to submit to Hard Freight! It’s a bit more inspiring than you think. I need to have it done by the 17th, and I haven’t started it yet… However, I trust my writing abilities to have it done over the weekend.

This day will be slightly busy but not as bad as last week. I have to not get distracted working my lower range now that my voice teacher taught me the vowel brightening trick… I constantly want to sing along with Karen Carpenter now.

PS, I’m going to try this exercising for 30 minutes a day thing. We’ll see how that goes…

Semester Survived

Somehow, I was able to survive this semester. I came across quite a number of difficulties: my immunity seemed non-existent, I was getting pesky head colds right and left whilst I began my first semester of voice lessons. However, I made it to Lincoln Center to sing the Durufle Requiem but after that victory I found myself with a diagnosis of mononucleosis.

I took a week to recovery and did quite literally nothing, which is horrifying for a Type A, but I knew if I wanted my voice back at all it needed to be done. Singing with tonsils the size of walnuts is not an option. So, somehow, I was able to pull off learning the accompaniment for about 15 pieces of music for a soubrette soprano, 8 accompaniment pieces for a music class as my honors option, two performances for a small choir and 4 voice pieces (Schoenberg was dropped due to time and sickness constraints). Anyone who is a singer knows performing for a small choir might as well be a solo – if one person in the small choir goes down, the choir suffers greatly.

Somehow, with mono, however, I survived. I have a full summer ahead of me with work, research for my thesis project and beginning work on my senior recital. I’ll bask in the glory of not having to physically be in class and have more control over what gets done and when. Oh, did I mention I have to have decent proficiency in German by the fall and spring, also, to pass foreign language requirements?

Fantastic. Stay tuned. Today begins with Mozart, Ravel, Mahler and… Laundry.