I recently celebrated my 14th wedding anniversary. This led me to think about all the things that led up to meeting my wife and some of the humbling experiences along the journey.
I remember sending off many applications thinking one of these school would accept me, because of my playing. Later I was humbled to learn that every city and state has its own versions of motivated musicians who are passionate about performance and happen to be good students too. So luckily I was accepted to a conservatory in New York City called the Manhattan School of Music. My choices at the time were MSM or the Army.
It was my luck to be accepted there because that is where I learned about becoming a student of what I love to do. I also met my first Thought Entrepreneur. He later became best man at my wedding, to the woman who I fell in love with at MSM.
I was not as strong a performer as my colleagues. The result was not being placed into an orchestra (humbled again). However, this gave me the opportunity of play in the Jazz Lab Band, and play with the percussion ensemble/ modern music ensemble and a brass quintet. I found myself again, feeling lucky.
When I was first setting up my Twitter account, I was stumped by my title. At first, I thought, I should just use what’s on my business card… The only problem was which one should I use. At the time I was a freelance trumpeter, with about 498 cards from Vista Print and a music teacher at an independent private school in Lynnwood.
Okay…now for the next problem. I can’t just be a trumpeter, I want to stand out as more than an instrumentalist. I am a musician who plays the trumpet. Right, so don’t use trumpeter go with “musician”. Now for the other business card. I could go with teacher or instructor…time to pull out the thesaurus…EDUCATOR in big bold letters was the first word I saw. So I went with “teacher” for a while (probably because I had a narrow view of what I did at the time) however I recently changed it to Educator. (and I like that decision)
I had another problem…which comes first. Am I, a musician who educates or an educator who is a musician? The answer to this part of my online identity was very similar to my own personal struggle with personal and cultural identity. My parents are from the Dominican Republic, so I am Dominican. When I’m with them, my brother, and all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins (lots of cousins) I am Dominican. But I was born in the United States, In the Bronx to be exact. So I’m American! I am both, 100% American and 100% Dominican. So I’m 200%. (I’m not sure that’s how that works, but remember I’m a musician, not a mathematician).
Eventually, I settled with musician first, because I feel that is the seed for all that I do in a professional capacity. I can’t teach music unless I am a musician. I certainly can’t perform music on the trumpet without being a musician first. At least that’s how I feel.
But the truth, (like my personal and cultural identity issue) is that I can do both and am both at the same time. I can’t divorce one from the other because “that’s who I am”.