We all have dreams.  We all have something that we want to pursue, something we want to accomplish in life.  Some dreams are loftier than others, but they are all significant.  Sometimes, people try to persuade us that our dreams are nice to strive for, but they are merely fantasies.  Those people make me sad.  It’s not a matter of being realistic or grown-up, it’s simply looking for something to motivate you, something to strive for.

I make it a habit to make my dreams come true.  It’s not easy, but it is so very fulfilling in the end.  It’s taken a great deal of work and a great many beat downs, but finally things are coming together.

Let me start from the beginning.

I grew up listening to popular music.  My dad would play Beatles records at night, and since my bedroom and the living room share a wall I would hear the music as I fell asleep.  When I started playing violin in fifth grade, I never understood why the orchestra couldn’t play songs people recognize, so I harped on my orchestra teachers throughout high school to program music people would like, things they would cheer for.  My youth orchestra, the great BYO (Brookhaven Youth Orchestra, defunct since 2003) fulfilled that need.  We played classical music as well as pop stuff.  Only now have I discovered that practice was rather unusual for a youth orchestra.

It was in BYO that I met some of my dearest friends, one of whom introduced me to the Trans Siberian Orchestra.  Immediately I wanted to do the same thing as TSO, combine orchestra and rock.  So many people thought it was silly.  I didn’t care.  I thought it would be cool to play with a band.

I went to college for music, and there I trained with the dream of becoming a performer of popular music and movie soundtracks.  I got a lot of flack for it, and was told on numerous occasions that I wasn’t good enough to be a performer.  I realized that the music industry is not about how good you are.  It’s about how long you are willing to wait and how many chances you’re willing to take to get where you want to be.  During a particularly low point in college (buried in work and dealing with my first real breakup) I discovered a band that gave me new life.  They are X Japan, my all-time favorite band.  I was particularly enamored with their drummer/pianist/leader, Yoshiki, who became my musical idol.  As college ended and I had to figure out the next step, I decided I wanted to work for Yoshiki in his L.A. studio.  In order to do that, I had to be in L.A., so I set out on a search of graduate schools.  I even went to California to appear for auditions in person.

Through my music business class, I got to attend one day of the NAMM show.  I wandered around, looking for electric violins to find the one that I would play if I was in a band.  I found a booth with strangely shaped instruments, including one violin that strapped around the body and supported itself.  As the assistant hooked the strange but really cool violin to me, I looked around and saw a poster for Trans Siberian Orchestra.  I was in the booth of Mark Wood, violin maker and solo violinist for TSO.  Later in the day I got to meet him, and to this day I’ve wanted one of his instruments.  I felt it was a good omen for auditions, and it reminded me of my dreams.  The first time around the audition circuit, though, I failed to get in, and after graduation, I did what many college grads fear and returned home.

Determined to get into grad school and out to the west coast, I practiced harder and found a new teacher to continue my studies.  My mom gave me a special present at this time.  One chilly day in December, we went into NYC and saw Trans Siberian Orchestra play at Madison Square Garden.  During the spectacular, which included not only a full performance of their Christmas Eve and Other Stories, but selections from Beethoven’s Last Night, the album which got me into them in the first place.  Towards the end of the concert, after lots of cheering and drooling over Mark Wood and his Viper, TSO’s leader told us a story.  He asked, “How many of you are musicians?”  I raised my hand and screamed.  “How many of you are parents of musicians?”  My mom raised her hand.  “Well, when I was in high school, I wanted to be in a band, and I told everyone that I was going to play Madison Square Garden.  All my teachers and guidance counselors tried to convince me otherwise.”  He paused, looked around, then shouted, “WHO WAS RIGHT?!”

I auditioned and got rejected AGAIN.  I felt so insignificant, like the universe was trying to tell me something.  It wasn’t that I shouldn’t be playing, because there had been too many instances where people thought I COULD do it and were very surprised when I did not get in the second time around.  As I pondered my next step, I received word that Yoshiki, my idol, would be the guest of honor at Otakon.  I immediately registered for the convention, made arrangements for hotel, and in the end I met my idol.  At the same time, my friend in California needed a roommate, so I moved cross-country with nothing but a dream.

It took three years, numerous gigs, connections, and twists of Fate, but I’ve finally started to get where I want to be.  I got in to grad school, and during a very tumultuous year had the opportunity to see the reunited X Japan (with Sugizo, my other musical idol) on a trip to Japan.  I figured, if THAT could happen, ANYTHING could happen.  Even though I constantly got told that I don’t play well enough, that there are people better than me, I refused to believe that I don’t have a place in the music world.  And what happened?  I got connected to the Golden State Pops Orchestra and get to perform movie, television, and video game music on a regular basis.  This past weekend, I became a member of Avery Watts’s live band as the violist in the electric string quartet.  It was an absolute dream come true, and I’m hungry for more.

I sound like I’m bragging.  My apologies!  I’m just really excited that something actually worked, that something has come from dreaming and reaching for the stars.  It pays to never give up, it really does.  It’s not easy, but the end result is worth all the pain that it takes to get there.

~ by violarockstar on October 22, 2009.

2 Responses to “Dreams”

  1. As a musician, thank you. My family and even most of my friends tell me that I need “back up” and that wanting to be a performing musician, in a band, is unrealistic, and a hard way to live.

    Well, of course it’s hard! Of course it’s not easy! However, the performance, the reaction, and the music is worth it, as is the band.

    By the way, I also LOVE that Sugizo is the sixth member of X Japan, as I’ve always wanted to see him live and if I ever get to see X Japan, Sugizo included… Well, then anything can happen, can’t it?!

    I’m curious, did you see the piano and violin duet Yoshiki and Sugizo performed?

    • You’re welcome! And kudos to you for pursuing what you want to do!

      I did see the piano and violin duet Yoshiki and Sugizo performed. I had been hoping for them to do that from the time Sugizo joined X Japan. It was beautiful!

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