It’s always interesting when you realize your current path, no matter how fresh and new it feels, is something you’ve been heading down for years. The following post is one I first published back in 2013 and recently happened across while perusing the archives of a past website. Not only is the information still entirely relevant (especially as we near the end of another school year), but it reminds me that my current coaching model is one I’ve been building for a decade and more.
I mentor young people who want to make singing the centerpiece of their lives with a program that combines vocal and performance coaching with artist development and financial health. I essentially give young people what I wish I had myself when I was young, what I didn’t get from my university degrees in music. The timing is perfect for this kind of alternative path, since colleges charge immorally exorbitant tuition these days and yet leave many graduates no better off in the workplace.
If you and/or someone you love is considering a creative career, consider the questions in this article. If you’d like to go deeper with your exploration, schedule a free consult and I’ll happily help you think out your options. College will always be one option, but it’s not the only one.
Here’s the article…
Many times, when a young person expresses a desire to pursue a career in the arts, parents immediately try to steer them away. This article is, in part, for you parents who are experiencing anything from mild, quiet concern to downright refusal to pay for art school. This article is also for the young person considering the arts, so you can critically think out your dreams with or without your parents support.
I have witnessed variations on this situation from many angles over the years, from being the kid choosing music, to knowing the burden of paying loans on not a lot of income, to coaching the adult who is now a doctor but who feels unfulfilled because she didn’t pursue her musical dreams.
Because I’ve seen this so much, it actually breaks my heart when I meet a young person whose parents are trying to divert them from a creative career. I also understand it. We want our children to thrive in the world. There is no one right answer for every person but to get to the right answer for you, you have to ask the right questions. Here are a few…
For the parent:
Begin with the basic question, “What do I want for my son/daughter?” Come up with about five answers and for every answer you give, ask yourself three follow up questions:
- Is my desired outcome guaranteed if he/she pursues a more “practical” career path?
- Is this same outcome possible with an artistic career?
- How can I help this outcome be achieved no matter what path he or she chooses?
I’ll explain more.
Let’s say your first answer to the first question is, “I want my son to be financially secure.” Your follow-up questions would be:
- Is financial security guaranteed if he pursues business (law, psychology) instead of art?
- Is financial security possible with an artistic career?
- How can I help my son achieve financial security no matter what path he chooses?
Let’s say your second answer to the first question is, “I want my daughter to be fulfilled.” These would be your follow-up questions:
- Is fulfillment guaranteed if she pursues business (law, psychology) instead of art?
- Is fulfillment possible with an artistic career?
- How can I help my daughter achieve fulfillment no matter what path she chooses?
You get the gist of it. I think you’ll find that all of the things you want for your children can be achieved no matter what they decide to do with their lives–as long as you are there supporting them and teaching them how to be successful. Meaning, if you’re worried that your son will be a starving artist for the rest of his life, refusing to pay for college is the worst thing you can do. The best thing you can do is teach him to go for money as much as fulfillment, to expect financial security and then do what is necessary to have it. Remember, the definition of “success” is incomplete without the word, “happy”.
But the reality is, some young folks don’t really want to do all that is necessary to be successful in their chosen art discipline. Which brings us to the next round of questions.
For the potential career artist/musician/actor, etc…
- What exactly do you imagine yourself doing to earn a living? What challenges have others faced that you may also face? Are you up for those challenges?
- Is a college degree necessary for this goal? Are their alternative (and more affordable) ways to gain the skills and experience needed to be successful?
- Are there related jobs that could help you support yourself while you pursue your art (teaching, for example)? Do they require specific education that you should include in your studies (if you’re going the college route)?
- What is it about music/art/acting that you love the most? What percentage of the time do you think you’d be doing those things? How do you feel about having to do the parts that you don’t like as much?
- What work are you willing to do to support yourself until you can reach your ultimate goal, and what everyday comforts are you willing to go without?
- What if it took you 8 years of working a day job (and possibly not making a lot of money) before you could earn a living at your goal? Would you still want to do it? Or would you prefer to pursue a more fulfilling primary job and make your craft your side gig?
Answering these questions fully will require time and perhaps some research. Your happiness is worth it so don’t skimp on either. Some will walk away deciding to be avid hobbyists rather than career artists. Others will decide that any potential struggle is worth following dreams. No matter what, though, the decision will be made with eyes wide open.