Classical musicians need support, friendship, and inspiration
One thing that an emotionally healthy musician has is a community of loved ones that supports them, cheers for them, and lifts them up when they take the inevitable fall. (insert failure article) When we’re in school that community is comprised of teachers, fellow students and family members. It is baked into the system.
When I was at Eastman my class of flutists was … shall we say competitive? And yet, we were (and still are!) each other’s biggest cheerleaders. I think partly because of the culture of our studio and partly because we just knew we needed a tribe. So, yes, we would race to see who could be in the practice room first (although we were dead tired and practicing with our elbows on the piano!) and who was the last to close the building out, we were also at Every Single Recital and studying Art History together and going out to clubs to dance the night away.
We were each other’s people. And it helped us to be braver because we knew we were loved unconditionally.
Cultivate Community Outside of School
Outside of school it becomes trickier to cultivate community. We’re working, freelancing, teaching, preparing for auditions and our friends are scattered all around the country. It is lonely thing spending hour after hour practicing by yourself in your apartment when you’ve been used to the camaraderie of practicing in community. You’ve crashed into real life and, chances are, it doesn’t look or feel quite like you expected. Now more than ever, musicians need the support system and encouragement of a tribe.
3 Simple Ways to Create Community
Take it from a musician who has lived in half a dozen states and had to rebuild community each and every time, here are 3 ways to build an In Person tribe of people.
1. Join a club/ take a class. Running club, hiking club, knitting club, writing club, book club, art class - literally any kind of club will do. You can learn something new or get support with an activity you already pursue.
Broaden those horizons, my sweet! You are not a one dimensional musician. IN FACT, you need new experiences and new people to enhance and inspire your music making.
And… if you can’t find something that peaks your interest, create it yourself! When I moved to Detroit, I had a hard time finding connection and community. So I got on our local FB community page and, knowing literally nobody in the town, I asked if anyone wanted to start a Brene Brown book club. And so many people raised their hands! To this day, my wholehearted girls are my people. They know me, they’ve walked through a lot of tough stuff with me, and they think I’m awesome - which is what your group will think of you, too!
(As a side note, only one other person is a musician. Turns out, while the complexities and pressures of being a musician are unique, most humans understand stress and know how to love on you through it.)
2. Go to events and TALK TO PEOPLE. Shocking, I know. I guarantee you that every arts organization in the city you live in is trying to attract “young professionals.” They have “cocktail this” and “wine that” and everyone will geek out when you tell them that you are a professional musician. You’ll be a celebrity.
Your task? Collect a few numbers and set up a coffee date. My experience is that the people who self select to join these types of organizations have big, beautiful hearts; they value the arts and want to support them; they are proactive and are excited to get involved and make a difference. They will become huge cheerleaders for you as you do the brave work of performing on stage.
3. Meet your neighbors. The thing that I love about neighbors is that you don’t get to choose them. They are inter-generational, they have various backgrounds, politics, and world views and they will make your life So Much Richer. To know that your neighbor can feed your cat, or listen to you run excerpts, or have tea with you AND that you can do the same for them?
It gives a sense of belonging that comes from living and doing life with the people you share space on this planet with.
As an INTROVERT, capital I-N-T-R-O-V-E-R-T, I am quite content to be by myself, have an occasional coffee date, and call it good. However, as I have intentionally met and loved my neighbors, my life has become richer and more beautiful. I leave them fresh baked bread and they leave me plants. I pick up their packages when they’re out of town and they feed my fish. And the other benefit? They love to hear me practice.
So, go out there my dear musician, and build a beautiful, diverse, amazing tribe for yourself. You will find yourself more grounded and happier for it.
I’m cheering for you!
Next Steps and Additional Resources
Here at The Musician's Mindset we have some incredible resources for developing and implementing mindset practices that will transform how you perform on stage.
First, check out our Personalized Mindset Tools Quiz to discover the mindset strategies perfect for YOU!
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Founder of The Musician's Mindset
Katie is dedicated to helping musicians overcome stage fright and believe in their own unique artistic voice. She believes live classical music is a powerful antidote for the division, pain, and loneliness pervasive in the culture and strives to support all artists to confidently share their work with the world. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, three kiddos, a dog, a snake, and a goldfish named Orca.