A “Millennial” POV

•August 4, 2020 • Leave a Comment

For a while now “Millennials killed _____________” has been the Mad Libs of news networks for easy clickbait headlines. Millennials are blamed for destroying everything that has to do with our society’s perception of successful adulthood because we’re seemingly not achieving it. To many of the Baby Boomers and older end of Gen X, Millennials are whiny and want things for free. We’re treated like children despite the fact that the oldest Millennials turn 40 this year, 2020.


To start, Millennials as a generation are defined as those born between 1980 and 1996. There is leeway on the ends there (one example being the “Star Wars Generation” or “Xennials” born between 1977-1983) but basically a Millennial is old enough to remember 9/11 happening and was likely in school at the time. Older Millennials were encouraged to use the internet for their high school and college papers since it was an amazing new resource, whereas younger Millennials were encouraged to use books since one can’t believe everything they read on the internet.

As part of the older, Xennial end of this generation, I remember a lot of anticipated changes as the world inched closer to the year 2000. I remember speculation that we’d have flying cars, space exploration would be a big industry, and maybe we’d be among the first to colonize Mars. It was drilled into our young minds that we were destined for greatness. We were the future. We were going to change the world.

So much of this attitude came from classifying essential job positions as “less than” our potential. “You don’t want to be flipping burgers the rest of your life!” was the saying I most clearly remember hearing. I worked teaching private lessons through my youth orchestra, so I wasn’t in the typical service industry job a teenager usually sees, but that teaching job was justified as partial preparation to go to music school and be a professional musician. “You don’t want a teacher who can’t perform, and you don’t want a performer who can’t teach,” were the wise words of my youth orchestra conductor. (For the record, during semester breaks in college I had an office job for a time and a retail job for a different time, so yes, I did experience “The Real World” at some point.)

I remember sitting in one of my freshman year music ed classes in college, being told that if we were string teachers who wanted to go to Long Island, there were jobs waiting for us. Available jobs for college graduates were plenty. Paying off student loans was not a concern. We’d be working! It was easy to see the pathway to greatness we’d been promised since elementary school.

Only a few Millennials were old enough to vote in the 2000 Presidential Election, yet as a group were most vulnerable to the policies of the W. administration. More of us could vote in 2004, but not in large enough numbers (and probably a bit put out by lackluster candidate choices) to make a difference. But our potential jobs were still there, we were still destined for greatness, so we figured we’d get through. It was easy to find work or continue to an advanced degree program.

The banks failed in 2008.

I was in my final semester of graduate school at the time and lost the majority of my income from parents immediately deciding (from their secure gated communities in affluent sections of Orange County, California) they couldn’t afford private lessons for their young kids. Friends of mine from undergrad lost their school teaching jobs because they were *just* entering their qualifying year for tenure as the district axed their music and arts programs. That plethora of jobs we’d been promised dried up and became increasingly competitive as tenured teachers lost jobs to budget cuts and had to find new ones, interviewing against shiny new graduates with little “real world” teaching experience.

I graduated into the 2009 Recession with a Master’s degree. It didn’t matter that it was in music, it didn’t matter that I had very little service industry experience, it didn’t matter that I was actively looking for work. That advanced degree made me “overqualified” for entry-level jobs. Parents were still cautious about spending so teaching private lessons was not reliable income. Gigs were not plentiful even for the A-list L.A. performers, so my shiny new degree didn’t make me any more visible. Years passed with accumulating debt and people insisting I wasn’t trying hard enough.

I attended my Ten Year High School Reunion and all of us were in the same boat. Well educated but completely out of work, reevaluating careers we had only begun to establish. I was weirdly relieved to hear so many stories similar to mine. All those jobs we were promised, all that “destined for greatness” prophecy, gone. We were all adults approaching thirty navigating uncharted waters on a journey for which we were never prepared, because it was “beneath us.”

The youngest Millennials weren’t able to vote in a Presidential Election until 2016 and were ridiculed for wanting things like universal health care, free college, and an end to student loans. The youngest Millennials were in grade schools watching their after school programs get cut, watching their parents struggle to keep life status quo during the recession, and likely got service jobs in high school to help pay for college. As the depression went on, wages stagnated, but life got more expensive. A person growing up in that environment knew changes needed to happen. Growing up with almost mandatory internet access they could see and learn about policies in different countries and wonder why the U.S. is adamant about clinging to its outdated structures. But neither on-ballot Presidential candidate in 2016 reflected or even cared to acknowledge the needs of the Millennial.

Millennials want things that would create a higher standard of living for everyone. The things we want are achievable through change, which we are willing to make but older generations choose to see as us whining or wanting things for free, or even worse, “Well you just have to work harder and stop spending money on things you don’t need.”

Most Millennials have smart phones not because they’re trendy, but because their jobs require them to be available to answer a phone or text 24/7/365. Back in 2014 I was BROKE and went to a job interview for a (now out of business) retail store. This store was at Hollywood and Highland mall, so it’s a high traffic tourist destination. In the job interview I was told that, for minimum wage, I was to be available at all times, be expected to work as late as 2am, and the only day the store was closed was Oscars Sunday. For minimum wage I’d have to keep my schedule open to be on call, especially because I lived close enough to cover. I’d be expected to say no to gigs if I had a shift to work, meaning I’d have to say no to something in my career because of my day job. There were no health benefits to be had. I was expected to tie my life to a minimum wage job that, honestly, was unable to pay my rent. I wasn’t given a follow up interview when I mentioned that I couldn’t be available 24/7/365.

Working a single job as a full-time employee should equate to a living wage.

I have friends that have worked service jobs for multi-million dollar companies that make sure their employees are just enough hours under full time employment to avoid paying benefits. So those workers get a second job, usually again in the service industry and also still labeled “part-time”, to be able to play schedule Tetris and hope they don’t get sick or pass out from exhaustion. These are workers who, now in the pandemic, are deemed “essential” because they provide something the public needs. Yet, the public thinks these workers should “get a real job” or don’t deserve hazard pay, or ultimately that these workers are inferior and should’ve tried harder when the economy has been against their betterment since 2008. These workers, along with many other Millennial adults and older Gen Z (who are in their early 20s and yes, able to vote) WANT to be out of debt, WANT to be able to afford their own apartment or home, WANT the better life they were promised as children. They’d love to be able to take a sick day so they don’t infect anyone else. They’d love to go on vacation or, even simpler, have more than one day off every few weeks. They’d love to own something expensive without being criticized for wasting their money.

In many ways, and for some time now, the U.S. has confused “luxury” and “necessity” while maintaining economical class divisions. Sadly, those people once deemed “The Future” are now seen as perpetual children in the eyes of their creators because of that definition confusion. Millennials get blamed for the nation’s shortcomings because older generations as a whole don’t want to change what worked for them. They’re unwilling to acknowledge the massive shifts that have happened since the year 2001. Articles criticize Millennials for not knowing how to do simple repairs around the house but never taught home repair in school. We’re criticized for not cooking at home but also for trying to eat healthy on a strict budget. We’re not paid enough to live on our own yet made fun of for being adults with roommates or for still living with parents.

Millennials could have been the future, but we’re too tired from working ridiculous hours to make ends meet. We could have been the future, but certain administrations cut scientific research, cut school programs, and cut artistic budgets, while trying to convince everyone that the U.S. is still a powerhouse, still a leader, still worthy of admiration. Millennials could (and should) be in power, but some people still think we’re too young. We’re highly educated yet have nowhere to use that knowledge.

Of course we’re killing everything. It’s the only way people pay attention.




•January 29, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been working on this for a few years now and am excited it’s finally coming to fruition.



Need a string ensemble recorded but don’t have the time to coordinate multiple schedules? Need it done quickly and remotely? RINTET is the answer!

Questions? Email Rintet1 (at) gmail (dot) com.

Are You A Violinist or Violist?

•March 29, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I get asked this question quite frequently. There are people who know me only as a violinist; others have only seen me in the viola section. Some don’t know that I play with rock bands, either. So here’s a quick explanation. 🙂

The short answer: I am both. I am a string doubler.

The long answer: I started playing violin in my school program in fifth grade. By ninth grade I had joined a local youth orchestra which was not your typical youth orchestra. This group performed year-round and had many different ensembles. Because of the nature of the group, performances weren’t exactly mandatory (School obligations always came first.) As a result, there were times the ensemble needed violists, so I and a few other violinists started doubling. By the time I graduated high school, I could (and did) perform in both violin sections and the viola section, sometimes on the same concert. I even did auditions for New York’s All-State Orchestra on both violin and viola (got in on violin, for the record.)

While I majored in violin at Crane, I still played viola on occasion. Upon moving to Los Angeles, I upgraded my viola and marketed myself as a string doubler. Through a random chain of events I got my Master of Music degree in viola, though I started on violin. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Lady Low

•August 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Because I love to play for as much as possible, I’ve joined a third band! This is Lady Low, a sextet comprised of three string players and three vocalists/instrumentalists.  Most of the month of July was me learning their songs and preparing for shows. Take a look at the video for the latest single, “Hello Sweet Goodbye” and see what we’re all about!

Although it’s not in the video, I got a new instrument through Wood Violins for this band: A 5-string Acoustic Electric violin! It’s got a great sound and I can’t wait for it to open up more.  Though, playing Bach on it is quite the challenge, with the different string spacing.  Good thing I like challenges. 😉

More great stuff to come!  It’s exciting!

Rex & The Lying Heir

•June 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a few years in the making, but since it went public this week I can post all over the place now!

In addition to Avery Watts and numerous orchestras, I’m also in a rock band called Rex & The Lying Heir.  It’s very glam rock influenced, though musically we’re all VERY different.  This week our first video released upon the world.  It’s a lyrics video for the song “Make You Mine”


Avery Watts Interview

•May 10, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Musician’s Friend interviewed Avery Watts about incorporating symphonic music elements (read: head banging violist and cellist) into his music.  The full text can be found through his website: http://www.averywatts.com/2015/03/avery-watts-interviewed-in-musicians.html

Read and enjoy!

New Avery Watts Single and Album

•November 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It’s been three years…

Three long years since any new Avery Watts music has found its way into the world…

The time has come…

Avery Watts’ new single “Here to Stay” off of the upcoming new album DEATH GROUND releases on DECEMBER 15, 2014!

As a special promotion, Avery has limited edition merchandise to pre-order. Follow the link here and grab the new goodies before they’re gone!

‘Tis the season for new music!

Live, from Los Angeles, It’s… VIOLAROCKSTAR.COM!

•November 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Website is LIVE! YAY!

If anything doesn’t work or looks messy, please let me know. If you think it rocks, please let me know.

I’m excited. 🙂


•October 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It’s about time I did this.  I’m turning my little (neglected for the past few years because I don’t have internet) blog here into my official website.  Don’t be surprised by the amount of stuff that changes in the next week or so as I get this running.  It’s going to be awesome.

Attitude Adjustment

•January 7, 2014 • 2 Comments

I may catch some flack for this, but I’ve seen it so frequently the past few months I simply cannot stay silent anymore.

There are A LOT of professional (or aspiring to professional) musicians out there who need an attitude adjustment.  What am I talking about, you may ask?  Statements like the following:

“I’ve studied this instrument for ____ years.  I know best.”

“I didn’t spend all that time in school to play whole notes.”

“They don’t read music. How could they know what they want to hear?”

If you’re a musician who chooses to collaborate with others, you don’t have the right to criticize them unless they’ve validly done something stupid or ignorant.  There’s a story I heard a few years ago which happened during a recording session, where the composer freaked out because a melody they’d written was not played in the bassoon, like they wanted.  The conductor explained that it was out of the bassoon’s range, so the oboe took it instead.  The composer, livid, said, “Well, the computer can play it!”

Now, before you roll your eyes, consider that the bassoon falls into the class of instruments that MOST MUSICIANS don’t know how to write for, unless they play it.  (Heck, I don’t know the range of a bassoon. I’d have to look it up.) Others in this class are viola, English horn, saxophone, and contra-anything.  And the rule remains – just because it CAN be done, does not mean it SHOULD.

So, any of you who roll your eyes when you hear an ignorant statement like, “Well, the computer can play it!” instead of complaining about someone being stupid, EDUCATE them.  You don’t know anyone else’s musical background, and I can solidly say from experience that some of the most beautiful and interesting music I’ve heard came from people who don’t read music and don’t know “the rules.”  (Of course, if they choose to argue with you and live in their ignorance is bliss world, that’s their choice and you can’t help it.  Just smile and nod and keep their name in mind so you don’t work with them ever again.)

And for the record, there are very famous composers out there who couldn’t write a viola part for shit.  Tchaikovsky and Copland, I’m looking at you.  John Williams, too.

But there’s another side to this musician attitude adjustment.  Many of the people I work with are NOT of a classical nature, even if they play classical instruments.  If you play violin, for example, and decide that you want to play for rock bands, most of your playing career is going to be long, held notes.  All those hours perfecting Mendelssohn / Sibelius / Tchaikovsky / *insert commonly overplayed violin concerto here* definitely honed your skills and (hopefully) made you better, but can you count to a click track?  Can you follow a changing drum pattern or a new guitar riff?  Can you play without a key signature?  Can you improvise a solo?  If your answer to any of those is “No,” then I’m sorry to say you’re going to find it difficult to get along in the non-traditional music world.  And nobody cares that you won the concerto competition with the Brahms as a freshman.  It’s irrelevant to your current situation.

Musicians do not live in their own isolated bubble.  Very rarely do we perform anything by ourselves.  So not only do you have to keep your ego in check, you have to know how to work and blend with others.  How many of you eschewed chamber music in college because it took away from your solo practice time?  Guess how many musical skills you missed out on?  A rock band is just an amplified chamber ensemble.  Everyone has their own part, and if you mess up, you screw up the rest of the group’s sound.  You can mess up in a symphonic string section and nobody but you (and possibly your stand partner) will know.  

Additionally, when you choose to play parties or events, remember your audience.  One of my best friends has a story from her college days of a gig with the cello choir that frustrated the group because:

– They had to play in a small area and “didn’t have enough bow room”
– The audience wanted to hear familiar tunes, not the complicated, obscure stuff the cello choir wanted to play
– The audience barely listened because the cello choir were background music
– Nobody in the crowd acknowledged the “artistic integrity” of the cello choir

Now, this friend and I played in the same youth orchestra.  We played gigs and concerts where there was barely enough room to sit let alone play.  We played Christmas carols in a greenhouse, or outside (on Long Island, in December) and HAD FUN, because that’s what gigging and playing for the public is supposed to be – FUN.  

And I think that’s where many professional musicians need the biggest attitude adjustment.  Just because you went to school, have a particular degree, have played here and there for particular big names, if at some point there wasn’t an element of fun, you need to figure out why.  It’s not necessarily a “go home and re-evaluate your life” kind of thing, but it is something worth thinking about.  If you’ve lost the fun of music, you’ve lost the purpose of music.  It’s entertainment.  It’s expression.  It’s art.  There is no right or wrong, no absolute yes or no.  It’s all up for interpretation.

So instead of criticizing others for being less educated than you, or not knowing what your instrument is capable of, enjoy the experience of opening up someone’s mind to new knowledge, and allow the things THEY know to enter your mind as well.  Share your love of music in multiple ways.  But if all you can think of is, “I did all this work for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing and they’re paying me next to nothing.  This is such a waste of my talent!” then please go get a day job and leave these gigs to people who will find the fun in them.  And check your ego at the door, because if all you’ve done to this point is practice in solitude, not even a McJob is going to employ you.