I want to be remembered as a goddess, obviously. Who doesn’t?
But what are goddesses remembered for and why do we still tell their stories? Because they had immense, often distinct, power and were memorialized for it. Yes, they had weaknesses. Yes, there were positive and negative attributes to their divine gifts. But when I think of the archetype of a goddess I think of a being who is powerful yet forgiving, loving but also rejects manipulation and abuse, authentic and yet flawed.
Why am I vaguely describing some nondescript heroine?
Because it’s HARD to ask myself this question of what my legacy is. There have been times when I’ve been too scared to ask ‘what if’ or too self-critical to dream big. And here I am publicly pronouncing what I’d like my mark to be on the classical music world.
Here goes nothing.
Firstly, I shall be remembered for being an excellent musician – but you wouldn’t immediately perceive this in our initial encounter. I have consciously tried to keep an unpretentious air about me; being pompous serves no one. Even though I played piano most of my life, I didn’t know my place in the classical music world (or even that there was such a world) until I was much older. I love explaining complicated opera plots with some Real Housewives-level drama. I love to share my analysis of what’s going on in a symphony and why it’s exciting. The gate-keeping in music has got to go. I’m here to lower the drawbridge. We were all once unaware of the joys of music – don’t forget that.
Secondly, in my legacy proposal I shall help others take steps towards owning their goddess-hoods. The music industry and its institutions are undergoing massive upheaval right now (and probably for the foreseeable future). As philosophies are reexamined and curriculums are updated, I vote we infuse them with the belief that being a musician is all about self-discovery and self-actualization. I want to create a community where everyone is encouraged to be their authentic selves. I want to see compassion for those on the journey of exploring what their purpose is.
As a collaborative artist, a common roadblock I see is an artist either denying their truth or trying to fit their voice into someone else’s. We’ve all been there. It takes true courage to be vulnerable. But I believe everyone wins when we support each other on the way to an authentic existence.
The world needs us to be who we are: empowered, messy, vulnerable humans just doing our best to show up and grow when we can. That is enough!
It goes without saying that there should be better representation for those oppressed by the patriarchy. There are so many jobs that I want to see more womxn in: the conductor’s podium, the dean of the music school, department chair, artistic director, the list goes on.
Imagine if every educator you had encountered was a womxn: How would our institutions be different? How would your life be changed? I don’t mean to imply that everyone’s experience would magically be improved. But I personally can think of a few instances where in this hypothetical world doors would have opened instead of closed.
I don’t specifically aspire to take the highest office in music land, but I challenge you to step up into a role you may never have envisioned yourself taking. You will have all of my support and then some.
And I think lastly, but most importantly, I just want to be an amazing educator. For me, a good teacher is as close to a god or goddess you can get. I have been very fortunate to learn from legendary teachers.
The things I observed made a huge impact on my career:
They took accountability for the quality of their instruction. If students did not achieve the task at hand, the fault was assumed to be the teacher’s. Basically this means ‘no shaming’ and ‘assume generously’.
We were asked to take on challenges that were just outside our comfort zone but balanced with support to back us up. This showed us they believed in us.
These teachers were kind and nurturing but not pushovers. Discipline was integral. This is how a teacher shows they care.
And they were the best role-models I’ve ever seen. If you want to know how to be a leader, observe an educator. Even better, observe an educator who understands their immense responsibility to oversee every student’s well-being with poise. THAT’S some mythological level magic.
I first encountered this level of educating about a decade ago and I still am deeply influenced by their impact. A great teacher can change your life.
So there it is: my personal plan to be a goddess.
Stay humble and open doors. Empower others to be themselves by being authentic. Lift others up, especially in places where their voices haven’t been heard before. Change the world by being great teachers and role models. Be a womxn in classical music.