With a few minutes before our soundcheck in Ganz hall, fresh inc students were happily jamming in the corner, playing a variety of simple card games, and snap chatting. I wandered over to the piano where Dan Visconti, resident Fifth House director and composer, was messing around on the keys. His seemingly effortless improvisation ebbed and flowed amongst the sounds of the room, creating an interesting sonic environment.
While he continued to play, we began to discuss his method of choosing new collaborators and selecting works from young composers. He said he is constantly scanning the composition world for young talents who are about to break through in their career. But the most important thing to consider, is this.
“Your life is an audition.”
Dan told the story of a composer who attended fresh inc a few years ago. Not only did the composer show up to the festival without a completed composition, but during his time at the festival he still didn’t complete his work. During a composition lesson, the student asked Dan what he could do to get on Dan’s radar for future commissions. “Unfortunately,” said Dan, “this was your chance.”
What we misunderstand as young professionals is that our careers will not hinge on a few instances of brilliance, but on a long string of tiny moments of consistent quality.
With Facebook, email, personal websites, Instagram, podcasts, snapchat, and periscope, we have an unprecedented ability to shape the way our people perceive our work. But, as always, with that power comes responsibility.
What to remember…
1. Your life is an audition. Make sure every moment reflects your core values. The smallest of details make the biggest impressions. For me this means:
- Always making good art
- Have a pencil in every rehearsal
- Respond to emails within 24 hours
- Apologize often
- Rarely say yes to projects, but when I do, hit them out of the park
- Act in the interest of mine and my students physical, mental, and emotional health
- Read contracts
- Write thank you notes
- Ask genuine questions
As Tom Waits puts it, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”
2. Document everything that you do. Collect, curate, and publish your best work so at anytime you represent the best of yourself to the world. Because we are increasingly the representation of ourselves rather than our genuine selves, it is important to shape your online presence appropriately. To this end, keep record of everything you accomplish.
- Have a personal website
- Invest in a quality camera
- Invest in a quality microphone
- Record every concert you participate in with camera and mic
- Collect press clippings
- Publish your insights on a personal blog (hey!)
- Choose one goal for your social media, thrust in that direction
- Publish case studies of your work (gigs, lessons, masterclasses)
- Have a collection of material (CV, headshot, recordings, videos, philosophy ready to go at all times)
As seanwes puts it, “People are going to put you in a box, so curate what you share. If you want to be noticed, you have to selectively project the thing you want to be known for.”
Please remember this the next time you show up to rehearsal unprepared (did that), forget to charge your camera before your recital (did this, too), and post pictures of bicycles instead of violins (daily struggle). Remember your life is your audition. Choose how you want to be remembered.