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A fresh musical start for fall

By Jill Timmons

Leaves are changing, temperatures are cooling, and students are returning to the rigors of school. For those of us in the music industry, fall can also be a time of personal renewal. As autumn commences, we have the opportunity to turn the page from summer pursuits and ignite fresh and innovative initiatives. Whether you are a performing artist, educator, member of a non-profit, or music administrator, fall can offer a new beginning. For many of us it’s when the year truly begins; it’s a time when we consider expanding our work and meeting the challenges of outmoded practices and perspectives.

Asian musicianWith each new fall season, I begin a search for fresh wisdom to inspire my work and the work of my clients. Last week one of my clients shared the following Carl Jung quotation with me: “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” This quote captured my imagination and delight. It reminds us about how we can expand our creativity and access new ideas for our work.

It’s that play instinct, however, that can get buried in the fast-paced world of technology, the onslaught of overstimulation by the external world, and even our own self-imposed limitations. I call these self-restrictions “show-stoppers” and here are just a few common “truths” that we wrongly tell ourselves:

  1. I didn’t win the Van Cliburn Competition (actually I’ve never won anything) so I will find it next to impossible to have a career.
  2. I am too old. If I haven’t done it by thirty, forget it.
  3. I didn’t go to a conservatory or well-known school and will therefore have few opportunities available.
  4. I don’t have enough repertoire, concertos, sonatas, (fill in the blank).
  5. The repertoire that interests me will never have a market.
  6. There are too many pianists (or whatever) already.
  7. I can’t do that (because other professionals aren’t able or haven’t done it).
  8. It will take forever to develop my career and it is probably too risky anyway.
  9. There’s no place for me because the market is already saturated.
  10. I can’t have a career without management.

Do you have a few of your own show-stoppers to add to the list? There are effective ways that we can move beyond them, so as autumn unfolds let’s play more and work less!

Jill Timmons is known to international audiences and educators as a leading consultant in arts management and the author of The Musician’s Journey: Crafting Your Career Vision and Plan. Her consulting firm, Artsmentor LLC, has helped countless music organizations and individual artists meet the challenge of today’s market place. Timmons has performed as a pianist under the auspices of the NEA, the USIA, and has been heard on NPR, with concert tours throughout the US, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Spain, and Chile. Dedicated to American composers, her discography includes recordings on the Centaur, Capstone, and Laurel labels. Find more resources at the Musician’s Journey companion website.

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Image credit: A young Asian woman with her clarinet. Photo by tmarvin, iStockphoto.

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