Audition Thoughts Part 22: Long Road to Success

I have a job.  A FOREVER job.
  • An institution believed in me enough to invite me into their compensation  program until I'm 65 or deemed incompetent through formal review.  
  • A department of music vetted me through a 6-month long process and determined that I had what it takes to prepare musicians for successful careers in music.
  • A group of well-established colleagues felt I would be a good person to work with for the next several decades.
Those all seem a little strangely worded but that's what it means to be given the opportunity to work in our field as an educator or performer.  It's a commitment worth a lot of time and money to everyone involved.  

A few words about my position:
BYU-Idaho doesn't use a typical tenure track system.  Their system is called CFS - Continued Faculty  Status - which takes three years to complete.  It is a teaching - not research - driven process.  I'm encouraged/expected to complete my terminal degree and will be given the time to do so.  In addition, BYU-Idaho is a university "without rank" which means that we de-emphasize formal titles and opt instead to address each other as Sister and Brother.  This is also part of the culture of our faith as Latter-Day Saints.  Some faculty adhere to this, others ask to be addressed as Dr/Professor.  

My students call me Sister Crawford and when they graduate they call me Elizabeth. 

I'm still trying to get someone to call me Your Highness, Queen of Bassooning.  But no takers...yet.  

How does it feel?

To capture the magnitude of securing a salaried position with medical, dental, vision, professional development support and retirement, I need to reflect on the long road that got me here.  
  • Age 14 started teaching beginner piano to pay for lessons at Hochstein School of Music and later Eastman School of Music community education.
  • Age 15 started going to music camps and joined an "elite" youth orchestra.
  • Age 17 attended and graduated high school from Interlochen Arts Academy.
  • Worked various odd jobs in high school and college: ice cream girl at "Frosty's," camp counselor at Interlochen, janitor, Rite Aid, Boston Market, Resident Assistant in dorms, office assistant in Student Life, U.S. Army - which had it's own long list of non-musical duties
  • Went on active duty in the U.S. Army as a bandsman
  • Went off active duty
  • Stopped playing seriously, sold my bassoon for 3 years to try being a stay-at-home-mom
  • Went back to school for my masters degree with a graduate assistantship
  •  Free-lanced for 3 years while in grad school and in the Army National Guard and took MANY orchestra auditions
  • Won a salaried orchestra gig and toured with an educational outreach quintet for 4 years
  • Won a visiting artist position in higher ed and taught in that position for 2 years 
  • In my second year applied for and secured a permanent, CFS position
That's a long list and it's missing a lot of details.  

This has NOT been a linear process and I'm not where I imagined myself when I was an undergrad at Manhattan School of Music.

Have you seen the movie/read the book, "Marley and Me?"

There's this great scene where Owen Wilson looks at his wife, Jennifer Aniston, and, upon reflecting on where they are in their lives, he asks, "Is this where you imagined us?"  

She responds, "Isn't this better than what we imagined?"

(That might be a horribly inaccurate quote but that's how I remember it.)

I am not where I imagined myself!  

I have been given so much more along this journey - much more than I would have given myself had I done only what I planned on.

I always tell my students, 

Better to have a plan and depart from it than to have no plan at all.

In summary, I'm deeply and profoundly happy...and grateful, so grateful to so many mentors/friends/colleagues.  

But those words don't even begin to capture the relief, excitement, realization of hopes, affirmation of hard work, return on investment, security, and continued progress that this "job" represents to me.  

Several people congratulated me with the words, "You deserve this!"  I've gotta admit, I don't think I deserve anything.  But I do think I have earned this privilege...and will have to keep earning it while never forgetting all the work that got me here.

You don't set out to have a career.  A career happens in all the little, day-to-day decisions you make as you meet the work of being a musician.

Now, get to work!


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