Diverse Paths to a Single Goal

THIS ESSAY WAS FOR UNDERGRAD TRANSFER APPLICATIONS: Why did you decide to pursue music as a career?

At the age of five, when most of my peers aspired to be astronauts, princesses or cowboys, I had already decided to become a musician. It was not until almost fifteen years later, however, that I settled upon not only the specific aspects of music that I desired to study, but the reasoning behind my final career choice.Soon after my music studies commenced, I decided that my goal was to become a concert pianist. My reasoning was simple: piano was something that I enjoyed and was also a field in which I showed some promise. Though I began composing almost immediately upon beginning formal piano lessons, I still considered composition a secondary interest and not necessarily something that I would pursue exclusively. Nonetheless, I continued writing music; almost unknowingly preparing myself for what would become a significant component of my future career.As I transitioned from elementary school to junior high, I began to compose more often, at times sacrificing practice time at the piano (something for which my teacher berated me on occasion). I was given the opportunity to perform some of my compositions in my preparatory program’s studio class as well as in recitals. I found playing my own works almost more satisfying than mastering and performing the established repertoire. It was at this point that I made the first modification to my musical career goals: instead of simply reproducing music that others had written, I wanted to become a composer and create my own. My reasons for pursuing a music career had changed, as well—I decided that, since God had apparently given me some natural musical ability, I had better put it to good use. Thus, I became even more secure in my decision to pursue music. After all, I was simply following my destiny. My one-dimensional goal of becoming a noted composer followed me throughout high school and almost into my first year at the University of Michigan. Initially I had set out to pursue a double degree in music and Spanish, reasoning that if music ever fell through, studying a foreign language would be an enjoyable and somewhat marketable alternative vocation. This desire to study both music and Spanish, combined with a nascent gift for teaching I had uncovered during high school, led me to look into the music theory degree, which would allow me to more easily balance my education and explore multiple interests. It was then, upon enrolling as a music theory major and establishing myself as a theory tutor, that I found my niche and my final career path: teaching theory with a heavy emphasis on composition, with the dual objective of helping students discover the relevance of music theory to their studies and nurturing their budding compositional talent. Though my career path may seem unchanging—I decided that I would become a musician at age five, and I still maintain that goal—in reality, the reasons behind my studying music have been anything but static. Though destiny and the praise of others might have motivated me years ago, my biggest motivations now are found outside myself: the pride I feel in my theory students’ achievements, my students’ newfound confidence in their analytical and creative abilities, and the possibility that someday—perhaps—I might discover and nurture the compositional talents of the next Beethoven.

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