From Office Manager and Violist, Joe Cosgrove:
In college, I was convinced that music was the only thing I could see myself doing, even while being painfully aware that I was getting a degree in a field that is over-saturated and undervalued.
In spite of these challenges, being a part of a community of musicians at a high performance level and a teacher who was genuinely invested in my improvement were critical factors in my getting a performance degree.
As I approached graduation two paths came into focus: pursue further degrees while refining my craft for auditions, or take on a teaching studio and gigs to earn a living while taking auditions. I saw my friends try the latter — freelancing to make ends meet, teaching huge studios, and making their rounds on the merciless audition circuit. It seemed they couldn’t catch their breath. I couldn’t see myself doing either of these things. And I was nowhere near the level required to be taking auditions that would score me bread-winning orchestral positions.
So, what then? I did as my father advised for many, many years, and I got a job.
Contrary to whatever misgivings I had as a young artist, holding down a 9-5 (or a 10-6 in my case) did much the opposite of crushing my musical soul. I had the stability my bank account required which allowed me to practice, perform, teach, and attend concerts on my own schedule. I realized, slowly, that I could be someone who takes as much pride in providing quality customer service as performing 30 minutes of Bach from memory. For the most part, I do suggest pursuing the former.
I tend my musical flame with meditation, consistent and rigorous practice, dedicated performances for friends and family, community outreach, and attending as many concerts as is reasonable. As things stand, I’m content with my improvement and the network I’m discovering. By taking my musical development into my own hands and practicing gratefulness and adaptability I have shrugged off most of my crushing fears of the dog-eat-dog music performance world, and I am happily focused on my work, music, and family.