Life Outside Music: Musician Spotlight




As musicians in the twenty-first century, we often lead a life that is fast-paced with a jam-packed schedule. It can be easy to fall into the traps and pitfalls of overworking oneself, as well as complete burnout. This spotlight is a part of a series of self-care articles in which we hope to not only encourage our fellow musicians to take a break and decompress after rehearsal, but to also explore the fascinating and complex lives that make us multi-dimensional humans and better musicians. The three following musicians were given the same survey outlining their life, hobbies, and interests outside of the concert hall.


 

Victoria Deutsch || DMA Clarinet Performance

Michigan State University, ABD


Alongside teaching undergraduate and methods students at MSU, I maintain my own private lesson studio with students from various ages and backgrounds. Though I perform in a multitude of ensembles, I find my greatest joy in performing chamber music. I am a founding member and bass clarinetist for Zenith Reed Quintet with whom I have been spending a majority of my performance time as of late. I not only love the amount of joy that music brings to one’s self and others, but also the continuous challenge as a performer and educator. As a teacher, the challenge of piecing together the unique puzzle that is each individual student is continuously stimulating as no student is ever the same. It is a career that evades routine without leaving behind structure, and that was very attractive to me.



Jasmine Wright || Hospice Music Therapist

St. Louis, MO


As a Music Therapist, I mainly use my voice and play guitar, but occasionally will play my violin for patients who I think would benefit from it or request it. Currently, I work in for Heartland Hospice located in St. Louis, where we work on goals such as increasing relaxation, positive social interaction, and positive sensory stimulation. While I do see music as a beautiful outlet to express myself actively, it’s also something I use a lot to express myself passively. Because my job requires me to play an active role in music, it can be difficult to want to create outside of my normal day job. I used to struggle with this, and felt as though I can’t really be such a lover of music if I am not submerged in playing/creating music all the time. I of course realized that in music, there are always two sides, the performer and the listener. Music is so forgiving, and does not care whom the creator or listener is. It just is, and I can choose what role to be in, without judgment.



Ciarra Krist || DMA Trumpet Performance University of Iowa


I am a DMA student pursuing trumpet performance, and currently maintain a private studio of ten students in the Iowa City area. I decided to become a musician in the eighth grade when I finally put down the soccer cleats and joined marching band…and I never looked back! I love the adrenaline from performing, as well as the spark and excitement in a student when something clicks for them. I am passionate about teaching about life lessons just as much as I do trumpet, in addition to being a mentor for my students.


 

Tell me a little bit about your family (and four-legged family!)


(above: Victoria and pup)


Victoria: I have two adorable pups, Maxi and Khadgar, that my husband and I love to spend time with. You can often find us taking them to the dog park and on trail hikes, and they always get puppuccinos afterwards! We also love to travel and experience new places with our pups, however, we have not been able to do so in the past year due to the pandemic.




(above: Koda)


Ciarra: I enjoy spending my spare time with my new found love of working out, hanging with my favorite pup Koda, working on my car, or playing video games on the gaming PC I built during quarantine last year. I allow myself two hours a day to myself to workout, allowing me to really focus on my personal health before tackling my day.




(above: Nova)


Jasmine: I am newly married to my husband James in June 2020. We originally had a large wedding planned in downtown St. Louis, but because of the virus, we had a small intimate backyard wedding at my parents’ house. We rescued a sweet pup named Nova two weeks before the wedding, so she keeps a lot of our attention throughout the days. We love training her, and she’s a cute, vocal, energetic sweetheart.



Outside of your typical day-to-day, what interests and pastimes do you enjoy?



(above: Victoria's die for games time!)


Victoria: I spend a lot of my free time gaming. Ever since I was little, I have always been a fan of fantasy-fiction literature, and that has transferred into my love for gaming. I spend time with many of my friends playing tabletop games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, as well as PC games like World of Warcraft. Gaming has especially been a beloved hobby through the COVID-19 pandemic as it allows me to continue to have fun and spend time with my friends via online. In my experience, gaming sparks creativity and broadens the imagination. There are so many benefits to reap through the hobby, and the soundtracks for many video games are fantastic! Plus, it is always fun to see my students’ faces when I acknowledge their video game references. Another favorite hobby of mine is baking—I absolutely love to bake! My mother taught me, and it brings me back to my childhood every time that I do. Living far from my parents now, it brings comfort to bake almost as if bringing me back home. There is just something so blissful about a delicious pastry that you crafted yourself; always paired with a coffee, of course!



(above: Ciarra's car)


Ciarra: I primarily play video games after I am done with school work and teaching, allowing me a couple hours at night to just relax and do something non-music related. I think these activities have taught me that it is okay to take time to focus on yourself, because it helps you to be able to focus on your musical craft when you are feeling great about yourself. Doing these things also keeps me from not reaching burn out as quickly when in a tough semester.




(above: Jasmine's calligraphy)


Jasmine: Occasionally I lead worship at my church, which I love doing. I sometimes play my violin, but typically sing and play guitar. I recently had the opportunity to play on a fabulous artist’s single called Peace by Anna Golden, and I’ve definitely realized how much I enjoy recording for other people’s music. Some non-music related hobbies I have are yoga and calligraphy. I’ve been practicing yoga off and on for years now. I seem to go through seasons of my body craving the way yoga makes me feel, and I’ve recently started practicing again. Calligraphy is something new I picked up this past summer. Artist Josefina H. Sanders (Instagram @loveoffering) began a Zoom class called Calligraphy and Chill. I took one, and was immediately hooked! I’m definitely not great, and am still trying to find a style that fits me, but it’s something I can end up spending hours doing and don’t realize the time has passed by.


Time management as a musician can be a challenge. How much time do you allocate for your outside interests and hobbies?


Jasmine: My time spent on hobbies vary. Sometimes I know that I need to choose an outlet to help regulate myself from my job or the outside world, so I will specifically do something like yoga or calligraphy. But I also let myself “veg out” through Netflix or even better, take a nap, if I’m feeling too overwhelmed to put time towards something specific. As for my musical hobbies, I usually just let those come to me as they do. Because my full-time job is music, I recognize that it’s not the healthiest for me to have non-stop music all the time.



Ciarra: These hobbies have taught me that life doesn’t have to be all work and no play, but you just have to balance your work and play. Honestly, at the end of the day, I do think providing time for myself has helped me in my career because I am more happy, outgoing, and positive when I’m feeling less stressed.


Victoria: I like to dedicate at least around ten hours per week towards my hobbies. I strongly believe that in order to perform music that truly reflects life, you must obtain personal experience through living your own. Some weeks that number is impossible, other weeks it is easily extendable. There is always give and take, but you have to know when to do both. As musicians, our schedules are always shifting, so I do not have a set scheduled time for my hobbies. Even so, I always make sure to allocate some time for them—even if it is very little—otherwise, it is easy to end up overwhelmed and burnt out. Fortunately, my husband also enjoys most of the same interests as I do, so we are able to spend quality time together while also enjoying our hobbies.


Do you feel like these interests have contributed to your role as a musician?


Jasmine: These hobbies have taught me to be patient and understanding with myself. I trained in classical violin through age twenty. When I was in the middle of my junior year at Indiana University for violin performance, I realized I was depressed and did not know the route I wanted to take for my career, musically. I had all these pre-conceived notions about what people would think about me leaving performance, and grew more aware of what I thought about myself not finishing my degree. They were not positive thoughts. But through the years, with the help of finding outlets that allow me to be me, I’ve learned to accept myself as I am, personally and musically. And I love every part. I take life and my passions one step at a time, and am not angry when one has to take the back burner because I recognize what my mind and body need at the time.


Victoria: To perform music with life you must live your own. I learned that very quickly after I spent almost all of my free time in the practice room early in my undergraduate degree. I found it was difficult to connect to the music, but I did not know why. Once I took the time to live my life and observe the world around me, I was able to relate my personal experiences to the music on the page and bring it to life. My musicianship has been impacted by my hobbies in the following ways:


  • Traveling inspires adventure in my sound, my repertoire, and my projects

  • My husband and two pups inspire love and warmth in my sound and musical expression

  • Baking inspires precision and patience that strengthens my technical abilities while providing me the patience to do so

  • Gaming inspires creativity and imagination in my expression of music while also reinforcing the value of teamwork to not only achieve goals but to make the ride more enjoyable.

Every experience in life can inspire us as musicians, whether it be a rainy day on the couch binge-watching Netflix with the ones you love, a devastating loss of a loved one, or an exhilarating adventure to a new country. The most important thing to remember is to actually live these experiences, and then you will be able to express your story to the audience when you perform.


Any last pieces of advice for our readers at VWCM?


Jasmine: To any woman entering the music field, don’t give up on yourself, and don’t take your gut feelings lightly. You know yourself better than anyone else. And it is possible to find something musical for your career, even if it isn’t performance. Do what makes you happy, and surround yourself with people who support that 100%!


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