“I still rage and wage my little war
I’m a shade and easy to ignore”
– Porcupine Tree “Buying New Soul”
My first serious job out of a college was working in the Financial Aid Office at Berklee College of Music. Part of my duties as I progressed in the job was to sign off on paperwork whenever a student decided to drop out.
The idea of dropping out from Berklee is funny because there is a whole group of “distinguished alumni” who went to college there for maybe a semester or two and then dropped out and found their artistic success. So when I would look at the paperwork, I could have been looking at one of these future legends.
One day, I received one of these drop out forms and I noticed the section where the student can put in their reason for leaving. Usually it was something simple like “classes are too hard” or “don’t like my teachers,” but this time it said “He doesn’t want to be a musician anymore.”
This made me stop and think. From what little I know, getting into Berklee takes a lot of work and practice. Once you get there, you are presented with a very prestigious and highly competitive environment to learn and I can imagine someone might find out quickly it isn’t what they wanted.
So I spent a little bit of time pondering what the kid meant. Was this student saying his experience was so bad that he was going to give up music altogether? Did his parents get to him and convince him he had nt future in music and he bought into it and figured he would stop trying? I figure that if you made the effort required to get into such a specialized school, there must be a passion there so even if you couldn’t cut it in the classes and wanted to leave, it doesn’t mean your passion is gone, just that you choose a different route for it. The history of music is littered with Berklee drop outs who go on to do amazing things.
Like most things in life, I was over-thinking it. It probably was not as serious as I imagined it, but the concept I was pondering seemed so foreign to me in my early 20’s and still does now that I am in my early 40’s.
Being passionate about music and trying to develop a career out of it is not an easy path and just like most things in life, you go through ups and downs. Some of us make it and some of us fail miserably. I will freely admit that my music career is nowhere near what I dreamed and imagined it would be but I will always be a musician. I will always pick up a guitar and try to write something or create something new. Music and guitar playing is now forever a part of me even if no one ever hears me.