Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Gave my first talk

In January, my former choir director from my first high school invited me to give a talk to his students about music careers and life in Paris. Wow! What an honor! I had never been a guest speaker before. In the past, I had been asked to give speeches as a student, in high school and in college, but that's another story.

I had a good time. The three periods of choir kids were all great. Beautiful voices and very musical -- their director has trained them well, and probably many of them since junior high since he teaches there also. They were interested in what I had to say, even if most of them were not expecting to head towards a music career. They posed some good questions, but also some surprising ones regarding the French like, "are they hairy?" and "are they smelly?" I answered them honestly -- "no" to both, with an added comment that the smelliest person I had encountered was German.

I think most Germans are hygienic, but there are a few who don't seem to mind foregoing baths, washing their clothes, and using deodorant. I lived in Munich years ago during a cold January, and unfortunately, the low temperatures didn't seem to dampen the odor of this particularly stinky woman. I could smell her probably a good fifty yards away -- before I could even see her. I don't know if anyone was ever honest enough to tell her that they thought it might be a problem. One evening, I was invited to a group dinner and, low and behold, the only empty seat left was next to HER! I was very polite for maybe half an hour (amazing, isn't it?) and remained calm in my seat, but then had to switch with someone. Phew!

Anyways, back to the high school talk. I am not accustomed to talking at great length and since I'm not a music career counselor, I could not give the most effective presentation on careers in the industry and how to prepare for them, but I could tell them about my own personal experience. I looked out at my audience and thought, "Is what I'm saying helpful at all? Who's going to have an equivalent experience? Is anyone going to come close?"

After all that self-analysis, I don't think there's any musician like me. I'm really quite lucky that I can teach, sing, play piano and violin, and conduct a choir. The combination makes me quite employable. I didn't even have to take the conventional route of obtaining a music conservatory degree. I don't know if I'm good enough at any one thing to have merited me a spot in a conservatory anyway, which makes me a weird one. I'm good at many things, but not REALLY good at one.

It's taken me a long time to be content with that, but I'm happy being me now.

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