Career Profiles: The “Normalcy” Test

THE CONCERT VIOLINIST

 Kim had reached a personal pinnacle when she performed with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall.  The 16 years of violin lessons, practice and concerts would always be a part of her life.  She was also realistic enough to know that being a backup violinist was the highest level that she would attain.  Right or wrong, there were some musicians that were slightly more valued.  Kim had come to peace with the situation and she decided to pursue her second love, teaching others.  She discovered that she had the patience to work with high school age students.

She knew that she would be challenged on whether she really wanted to be a music teacher as opposed to finding an orchestra where she could be a lead violin.  When she went to the interview she was ready.  Kim was always fit, professional and well dressed.

She met the Principal, Sophia, with a smile, great eye contact and a firm handshake. Sophia welcomed Kim into her office and asked if she wanted anything to drink.  Kim asked for some water. Sophia started the conversation by referring to Kim’s achievements in the music field.  Kim thanked Sophia for the kind comments.  Anita asked Kim why she decided to seek a teaching career.  Kim responded, “I love to play the violin and I have been fortunate to be recognized for my abilities.  I also realize that there comes a time when someone has to take a longer view of their career and I’ve decided that teaching is the best way for me to remain involved in music, provide a service to young people, and provide a livelihood for the long term.” Sophia asked, “Are you sure you’ll have the patience to teach high school students?”  “I think so,” responded Kim.  “I’ll never positively know until I’ve done it for a year, but I’ve worked with students in a camp situation and in the summer, and I love working with them.”  “What about your concert career?” asked Sophia.  Kim responded, “I’m prepared to give that up at this point.  I’m thinking about trying out for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and that wouldn’t conflict with my teaching duties.” Sophia prodded a little further, “I’m sorry to ask again but have you been thinking about this for any period of time?”  “Yes,” Kim responded, “For about a year I have been thinking about this and I am very comfortable with my decision.  Why do you ask?” Sophia responded, “I just wanted to be sure that your decision was not a knee jerk reaction but a well thought out decision.”

That exchange was the critical part of Kim’s interview. Sophia had an opportunity to hire a great musician for her highly dynamic, and demanding, music community, but she needed to be sure that Kim wanted, and was ready for, a teaching career.  Neither she, nor Kim, would totally be sure whether teaching was for Kim until she was on the job.  But Kim had convinced Sophia that she was ready for the change and Sophia hired her.

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