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  • mjheath72

Finding Your Musical Niche

From the age of 12, I knew that I wanted to make my life in music. By then I’d taken piano for 5 years, learned both flute and clarinet and spent countless Tuesday nights going to Sweet Adelines with my mom (who was a devoted SA for 51 years!). In high school I played in band and orchestra and sang in choir. By the time I graduated I had learned to play a little bit on most of the instruments around me. However, it was clear to me even then that I wouldn’t be making my living as a performer. So my mission as I went to college was figuring out how and where I could fit into the music world. Like most girls of my generation, I got a teaching degree.

After a single year teaching music in the public schools, I realized that wasn’t it. Major hats off to you music teachers out there fighting the good fight. I know how hard it is. I headed back to graduate school and got two degrees in music theory thinking I’d be a professor of music theory somewhere. When I finished and got two college job offers, I knew that wasn’t “me” either. It wasn’t a sudden realization, the feeling had been coming for a while, and the job offers just crystalized it. But along the way in school, I had also realized that if I kept learning as much as I could about music, some unknown, undiscovered path might emerge for me. Don’t know how I knew that. Instinct, I guess. Hope, to be sure.

So with my very nice husband, we moved to New York City so I could attempt to somehow enter the music world. It was crunch time - no more school, no more days in the library - time to find out where and how and if I fit into it all, time to get going, girl.

For the next 33 years, I had a wonderful roller-coaster journey around and through the music world in New York and Amsterdam. Radio, writing, researching, record company, opera company. At different moments I got to use different skills and bits of knowledge I had acquired along the way. It was a ride, and I’m just smiling remembering and writing about it all.

I tell students who ask me, just go for it. Put your love and effort into it, and you just never know. Like me, your gut is telling you that you have to figure out how to make your living doing this.

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