March 18, 2012

What are the pathways to a career in music?

Tomoko remembers, “In Japan we have to decide at 18 years old what major to have. I chose music, and every week I read and played music. All music majors had competitions. With that kind of pressure motivation was key.”

Tomoko states that a different choice can also be wise. She notes, “Yo Yo Ma was a math major in Harvard because he had to decide a major at 18. In college he studies an academic discipline, and he played noon concerts at Harvard.” Tomoko asserts that basic techniques should be down pat by age 18. “People can take a break, and come back to music once they are mature, and ready for the career stage.”

Tomoko thinks that careers can start too early. “I don’t like protégés.” She asserts that sometimes parents might push their child into professional performing prematurely, which can lead to early burnout. To prevent such actions, the music teacher should try to protect the child.

Tomoko notes that over 2000 conservatories exist in the U.S. “With so many pianists, how come so few survive?” she asks. Only one in 10,000 becomes famous. Part of the issue is practice, Tomoko thinks: “The beginner practices 10 hours a week, veterans practice 15 hours a week, and professionals practice 20-24 hours a week.” Tomoko asserts that most would-be musicians change their career objectives, but they can still contribute music in the society: through teaching, critiquing, and being an informed audience.

Tomoko thinks that some people enter the music business to make money or to survive. Some pianists have no fun; they take everything very seriously, and show little emotion. “They are missing wasaki.”

Music is Tomoko’s vocation, her calling, and she performs with both discipline and passion.