#TBT - From the Field to the Office
Thursday, August 27, 2015

#TBT - From the Field to the Office

Written by John Thompson
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I recently started a huge and scary new chapter of my life, post-graduation (aka the real world). It’s filled with unknowns, car insurance payments, and long commutes to work on crowded interstates where people don’t know how to drive. Despite these challenges, I’m excited and eager to start this new chapter off well, and use the tools I’ve accumulated to do so in the best way I can.

Prior to joining Music for All as its newest Marketing Intern, I recently graduated from the University of Kentucky (go Cats!) with a bachelor’s degree in arts administration and a music performance minor. As I began getting familiar with my new place here, my Facebook feed was flooded with many first day of school pictures of my former classmates. My friends had just begun band camp and I remembered how carefree life was and how exciting a new school year felt. Though I felt a yearning to be there, I realized that even though I’m about to start a chapter of my life that doesn’t include a lot of performing, I wouldn’t be if I had not found my love for music in the first place. 

I tribute most of what I have accomplished in life to my experiences in band. Without it, I would have never fallen in love with music, attended University of Kentucky to study it, acquired a degree, been offered the opportunity to intern for Music for All, or to write this blog. Without band, my life would look very different. In fact, I remember when I first decided to be in my high school band…

It happened after seeing the movie Drumline. I know, it’s not an accurate depiction of the average experience in band, and the drum line isn’t extraordinarily talented, but it opened my eyes to what marching band was, and it was cool, so don’t judge.

Anyway, band in high school was the extra-curricular activity I needed. I wasn’t athletic enough to be on any of the sports teams, nor did I have an extremely competitive spirit. My marching band competed, but my directors did a great job of making it more about being as musical as possible and doing our personal best rather than winning (shout out to Mr. Charles Kunz, Michael “Carp” Carpenter, and “Coach” Chad Kohler). These men took me from a scrawny teenager who liked to drum to a taller, slightly less awkward scrawny teenager who was a musician. They taught me how to learn, how to teach and be taught, and how to perform my best consistently: things all band members are taught to do.

I graduated from Fishers High School with a lofty goal, to go to college, study music and become a professional musician. It turned out to be something that was a lot harder than anyone told me it was going to be. Luckily, I found that I really enjoyed the business side of the arts. For those of you who don’t know, arts administrators are those people who do the “behind the scenes” work. They are the directors, marketers, fundraisers, and logistical people who bring you your entertainment, while the performers get all the fame (which they deserve). No one ever told me how hard it would be to make it as a professional performer, but all that time spent practicing wasn’t for nothing. I spent hours upon hours only to end up somewhere in the crowded area of mediocre-O.K. However, I truly believe that because I studied music, I am capable of doing more things well and things that are completely non-music related well too. Even though I won’t be making a living with the specific useful skill of performing music, I believe studying music gave me so many transferrable skills that will make me a valued employee anywhere I work. Here’s just a short list of skills I didn’t learn in a classroom, but in a practice room.

  1. Time management
  2. The ability to follow directions to the letter or improvise, and knowing when it’s appropriate to do so
  3. How to listen (and I mean really listen)
  4. How to work closely with a team
  5. How to work alone
  6. Knowing what tool is appropriate to get a job done right
  7. How to be consistent
  8. What it means to be reliable
  9. Knowing what you can do to make other people better, or their jobs easier
  10. How to maintain long periods of extreme focus

Now, I’m not saying that all these skills can’t be acquired elsewhere, they absolutely can, but if I weren’t in band or studied music, I don’t know where I would have learned these things, if at all. So maybe I have a lot to learn still, but music helps me not worry about this new chapter of my life. The skills I’ve learned through music education have set me up to succeed.

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