The other day I got a nice surprise email from an acquaintance of mine from Boston. This woman was a regular at my concerts. Not a cellist herself, but a huge fan, and she always talked about how she wished she could play. Well-educated, and having had an impressive career, she retired early and did more impressive things. But she had always dreamed of hosting salon evenings in her swanky home and reading Brahms Piano Trios into the wee hours of the morning. In her email, she excitedly told me that she had decided to make learning the cello her quarantine project.
I was so happy for her, and asked her who her teacher was.
“Oh! I’m not studying with anyone yet. I’m not good enough. I’m just going to learn the basics myself and then I’ll go and find a teacher.”
(Yeah–I just heard you all sigh deeply)
But could I just tell her how to do vibrato? She asked
It’s not that I can’t teach someone how to vibrate, obviously. I’ve been doing that for 25 years.
It’s that I can’t just tell someone how to do it and then send them on their way. I don’t care how many advanced degrees one holds from MIT. It involves exercises and repetition under a watchful, experienced eye. It requires feedback and adjustments. It requires information you can’t get from a You Tube video.
Now, if you’re merely curious about something or you just want to dabble for fun, then by all means, go for it. I’m a huge fan of hobbies (link). And if you’re curious about that weird shaking thing we professional cellists are doing with our left hands, I’ll happily tell you all about it.
But if you want to really do it–be proficient enough to be able to play (and read) chamber music, say. Then you simply need to work with a teacher.
It sounds better. And it starts with the letter P, like the other 3 have, so….
If you want to get a bit fitter, then you can just do a home workout. BUT, If you want to change how your body looks, then you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration by signing up with a personal trainer (note to self: book time with a personal trainer, KK!)
The same is true for preparing for orchestra auditions, learning a language, learning a sport. For just about everything, really.
Take it from me.
Back in 2017 I knew I wanted more from my music career. I loved my teaching and I loved my performing, but the entrepreneurial itch that has followed me around my whole life was resurfacing.
I did some google searches for help, guidance, examples….anything, really. And came up empty.
So I turned to podcasts. I found several that were mind blowing to me at the time. Mostly online marketing and business leaders like Amy Porterfield, Jenna Kutcher and Steph Crowder.
I was hearing words I, as a musician, had never heard before: ROI, conversion, launching, email marketing platforms, algorithms, ICA, landing pages. My head was spinning.
These people were masters. They were my teachers. But as I dove into their content, I kept noticing a common theme. One after another, they would at some point refer to their business coach…..their WHAAAT?
All of these business leaders had business coaches. And they all swore by them. I was determined to get one as well.
One of those podcasters, Marie Forleo, runs a 6-week long hybrid digital course each year called “B-school”, and I signed up for it. It wasn’t cheap, and I didn’t have a ton of extra cash lying around, but I decided to invest in myself. Marie Forleo would be my business coach-even if she didn’t know who I was.
I learned more lingo. I learned how to do a few more things. And there were thousands of other people in the course wanting to network and exchange info.
Our little corner of the music industry is a strange one. Every time I went into a live Q&A and asked something about my projects, I was met with blank stares. They just weren’t quite sure how to deal with my classical music “customers.”
So I kept looking. I had gone from dabbling in business ideology through podcasts and books, to finding a mentor who couldn’t really teach me what I really needed to know. I was determined to find someone who understood both the business AND the industry.
Eventually I found that person in my coach, Jennifer Rosenfeld, and as soon as I started working with a teacher that was well-matched to who I am and what I wanted to do, doors started to fly open for me.
Because just like vibrato, you can’t just read a book about creating a business and do it. You need guidance in real time. Someone there to answer questions, help steer you and sometimes just say “Yep! You’re doing great! Keep going!”
And now I know first-hand what those podcasters were talking about, and why they have their coaches. Because while I now have the experience and knowledge to be able to guide my own clients towards their goals and help them achieve their dreams, I, too, will have a coach in my cheering corner for the rest of my career.
And it’s funny how similar the difficult conversations are when an interested client says to me: Well, I think I can completely overhaul my career on my own for now, but could you just give me some advice on launching this huge idea of mine?
For that, you’ll need a Professor
Preferably someone with a proven track record who has experience doing what you need to do. If you are just starting out and dabbling, maybe that person is a podcaster that you’re listening to. Or maybe you’ll dive into some of those inexpensive digital courses that teach you how to do one thing or another.
But eventually, if you truly want to succeed, you’re going to need to bring in the big guns. The Professor can help save you months of procrastinating and frustration. They can keep you from making costly mistakes and they can help you get to where you want to go.
Depending on who you are and how you work, and what you want to do, maybe that person is me. But maybe it’s not me. I have several musicians coach colleagues who I hold in very high regard. If you and I have a call and I think someone else would be the perfect coach for you, I’ll let you know.
Cheers! and Happy New Year!
If you are just catching this 5-part series now, here are the previous posts. And be sure to join us next Monday for the 5th and final member of your #Teamsuccess