I found The Transitionists, Theme Magazine’s current issue, particularly inspiring. According to editors Jiae and John, ‘Transitionists travel in between design and art, creating a dialog between their commercial and personal work, playing off the constraints and perks of each discipline. The end result is better work.‘ I find this idea of Transitionists relevant not just to the designers and artists on whom the magazine focuses, but to any musician/entrepreneur and others who are also pursuing multiple endeavors in the classical music world.
I read the magazine cover to cover. This issue really hit home: as many artists/designers are averse to being categorized as one or the other, or both (although they are clearly doing both), artists in other disciplines may have similar concerns about how they are perceived. Definitely understandable; for example, tell people you teach the piano and you’re a ‘piano teacher’ (image: old lady in the suburbs who missed her chance after getting married and having kids). You want people to think of you as what you want to be. A single label eventually seems to have some sort of power over who we are or what we will become.
I’ve struggled with the idea of being a pianist, a business person, and a teacher. (Mainly the former two). As a musician, I feel like I don’t do enough, although I do as much as I possibly can. There is this guilt that many of us encounter when we’re not spending every waking moment with the instrument, practicing into oblivion, because that is what a musician is supposed to do. (There are also unwritten rules about what we’re supposed to wear to be taken ‘seriously…’ more on that later.) I’m sure I’m not the first to grapple with the question of what they are supposed to be doing to deserve, it seems, the privilege to be called a musician (especially when not following a typical path).
Now we can be happy to know there’s another option besides adhering to a super sticky label: we too can be Transitionists, using different talents to enrich one another. For instance, teaching allows a musician to learn more about the craft by having to demonstrate and talk about it, starting a concert series creates an opportunity to turn those isolated hours in the practice room into something meaningful. Multiple undertakings are normally viewed as constraints by uncreative minds. These alleged constraints could instead be used to guide one another.
I could write an entire thesis about the Transitionist movement and classical music here, but I will spare you. Luckily, Theme has an issue full of inspiring interviews and visuals. If you were unable to pick up a copy of Theme at our soiree, you can get it at any proper bookstore or subscribe here (which I would recommend, as this magazine kicks ass and it took me years to find a true favorite! Added bonus: it smells good).