When I was a senior in high school, my friend’s mom brought me back a t-shirt from Carnegie Hall. For the life of me, I cannot remember what was on it. I think it was a picture of a rose window, but I can’t figure out why that would be on a Carnegie Hall t-shirt. Anyways, she had heard that I had been rejected by my first-choice college, the place where I just *knew* I was destined to go to, the place I believed would be the perfect school for me to get a music degree. She knew I was crushed.
When she gave it to me, she told me that if I wanted to perform at Carnegie Hall, I had better roll up my sleeves and get working in order to realize my dream. There was no pity party. No shifting the blame. I’ve only now fully realized that her comfort came in the form of a challenge to pick up the pieces and move forward. This memory from 26 years ago came to me recently because—wait for it— I just made my Carnegie Hall conducting debut (Um, which was really cool. It’s just like in the movies when the character turns towards the audience and you see this wide shot of the hall from the perspective of the stage. It’s just like that).
Now to be clear, I understand that just because you want something, you can’t always have it. I would really like a billion dollars. I would also like someone to go out and bring me back a half-gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream. The good stuff. Not the low-fat nonsense.
But I also understand that persistence and the ability to rebound from obstacles is crucial to goal achievement. I haven’t obsessed about performing in Carnegie Hall, but I have worked really hard to learn and grow in my profession to the point where it’s a natural step in my career to be hired by a wonderful music organization whose ensembles perform in Carnegie Hall. My goal wasn’t specifically to perform in Carnegie Hall. It was, however, to become an effective music educator.
Maybe you know someone who is in need of a t-shirt, a hug, and a challenge. Offer them the gift of your own insight and experience. Together we can empower our community.
Betty Brewer, I dedicate my Carnegie debut to you and I thank you.