Passion should drive what you do. Follow your heart. Stay true to yourself. Let that light guide you. These are all cliché phrases we have all heard a hundred times before. They often seem overrated and abstract. Seeing them in action, however, can be quite beautiful.
This past Wednesday, Hannah Holman, a professional cellist from the New York City Ballet came to give a talk at our school about exploring a career in music and her path as a musician. When she started out with the cliché phrases I mentioned at the beginning, my immediate reaction was “That’s great but how do you survive on this type of a career?” My second questions was “we are currently hearing from someone who is highly successful in the music field, how can amateurs relate to her?”
Holman addressed my second concern very quickly as she openly discussed the highs and lows of her music career. Her path to musical success was nowhere near direct. She began as a music major at a well renowned music college on the east coast but hated the factory-like mechanistic feel of the school. She transferred to a local college, switched her major to the ‘practical’ pre-med route, only to change back to her true passion a year later. From then, opportunities presented themselves and Holman sought out the best, until she got it.
In regards to my initial question, Holman admitted that while it was difficult at times, you have to follow your heart’s desire. I didn’t appreciate this statement until she began playing her cello. The first piece she chose to play is one that comes on my Pandora station quite frequently and in this regard she was able to connect with me though I no longer play any musical instrument. But beyond that connection watching Holman play the very instrument she first learned to play on was emotionally moving. Holman seemed to traverse into a different world altogether as she played, allowing the music and her facial expressions convey the meaning of each piece. Seeing her absolutely submerge herself in the music proved to me that you don’t need to have that high paid profession to be happy and satisfied with what you do. This doesn’t mean that I walked away with the false impression that I can become a professional musician easily someday. Holman did, however, emphasize that with passion, motivation, and dedication, any profession can end successfully.