Sonoma State began influencing my life and career path even before I was enrolled. By my junior year in high school, I was pretty sure that I was going to be a political science major, and then continue my education to become an attorney. I had participated in bands and choirs for most of my life, but to me music was something you did on the side just for fun. One of my teachers suggested that I take a theater arts summer program at SSU. One day, one of the instructors asked what my college plans were and what my major was going to be. Then they dropped a bombshell on my young mind. “You are a great musician, you should be a music major. You could make a living doing this.” Make a living, as a musician? I think I had always thought all my music instructors just did it for fun!
When I look back on my time in the SSU music program, I realize how incredible the instructors were, not only in their musical abilities, but that the program was geared towards job skills that you would need as a working musician out in the world. You can learn all the theory and history, but what makes you viable as a performer and/or a teacher in real life? Outside of classes, there were always more projects and groups to participate in. I saw then, in that program and in life, you get out of it what you put into it. If you put in the bare minimum, you may pass and get along, but if you reach out, put in the extra work, put in the extra love and dedication, then you will reap the rewards.
Several instructors actually changed the way my brain worked, revelations that shook me awake. These things would make me a better director, acting coach, teacher, and performer. The lessons that I engage in with my private students are vastly different from the types of instruction that I had as a child. Everything back then seemed so rigid, with one right way to do something. The SSU music department exploded that myth. There’s a kaleidoscope of ways to teach, to make art, and to connect with other humans. That outside of the box thinking influenced my view of all things in life.
Currently I perform, teach, and own Music to My Ears in Cotati with my Partner, Evan Bowers. With my performances and with my students, I encourage authenticity, connection, and creation over imitation. I strive to help people find their voice in this world, as Sonoma State helped me find mine.
Links to check out: