“All of this,” emphasized Melissa Snoza, executive director and flutist of Fifth House Ensemble, “presupposes that you have the goods.”
Snoza is a dynamic speaker, a Hello Kitty enthusiast, and a grant-writing-wizard.
She is also a world class musician.
A graduate of Eastman and Northwestern, Melissa Snoza made the academic commitment to pursue a career in music performance. After school she took many orchestra auditions, typically making it to the finals, and won several jobs. It was only after deciding to manage her own career by creating an independent chamber group that she began to use entrepreneurial strategies to grow the Fifth House business. But Snoza doesn’t let you forget for one second that it was her practiced, hard earned musicianship that lead her career forward, not her business sense.
With the honor of playing alongside Mrs. Snoza in Ayanna Wood’s new composition, Major Key, I can attest to the skill she has cultivated.
Her playing is precise, her musicality is moving, and her rehearsal techniques are at once inviting and efficient. She is truly a professional musician in every sense of the term.
When I asked her what she expected of herself at the beginning of each rehearsal, she responded, “I play every note, every rhythm perfectly at tempo, and have a knowledge of how my part fits among others.” This is a tall order. But I experienced no less than this level of preparation in every rehearsal with Snoza.
Melissa Snoza makes good art. Melissa Snoza has the goods.
So more than ever before, I am instilled with a sense urgency. In order to be a quality teacher, I must continually make good art. In oder to be a quality teacher, I must practice diligently to assure my continual growth as an artist.
When I asked Snoza how she made space for practice amongst the time consuming work of grant writing, fundraising, and marketing, she responded with an acknowledgement of difficulty. “Somedays I just have to stop the work and pull out my flute. Because if I don’t play my flute well, then none of the work matters.”
With this mindset I return home excited to dig deeper into the complexities of my instrument. I will maintain the paths I have already forged during my time with violin, but also look for new paths. I look forward to attending California Summer Music in July and working toward graduate school auditions in the fall and spring. This is not a time to distance myself from my instrument. And now I know it will never be.
The lesson learned from fresh inc? Discover, master, perform, repeat. As professional teachers we can never leave this cycle. We can never quit growing. We can never stop making good art. We can never forfeit the goods. Because therein lies the measure of our value as artists.