On Thursday, I went back to my undergraduate alma mater, Carnegie Mellon, and spoke to a music business class and to the school of music’s undergrads.
I was nervous.
I was also flattered as hell to be asked – it’s a heady thing, being asked to return to the scene of the crime and draw parallels between one’s career and one’s training. Now, I’m realistic in knowing that a school has to fill X number of slots for this weekly seminar, and I’m providing an outside perspective. But I still totally walked onto the stage at Kresge (which was Drama turf when I was a student, so it felt both wrong and oh-so-right!) and thought “Hot. Damn. I’ve made it. Dad woulda been proud.”
Looking back on when I was a student, I can’t remember one person speaking to us during Convocation who wasn’t a performer. The push towards the stage was strong, focused, and unrelenting. And any support and guidance ceased immediately after graduation. I had a love/hate relationship with the school for years, both because I felt cast-off after graduation AND because, once I opted out of performing, I figured that they wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about my career – even though I used my musical skills on a daily basis.
I was delightfully, 100% wrong.
The new administration was fantastic, and actually addressed the phenomenon that I felt as a recent grad. They talked about the processes and classes that they’ve instituted to help students track their skills as they relate to the field. They implemented a great mentoring model, one about which I am 100% jealous!
The students, both in the class and the seminar, were inquisitive and very self-aware. I asked for questions at the end of my speech, and there were none, but there was a long line of students who met and chatted with me after the talk.
(And the Dean might’ve called me a Rock Star. #WINNING.)
Thanks, CMU, for welcoming me back so warmly.
And also, for not asking me to sing.
Yay! It WOULD have been nice to have had some of those ideas in place when we were there, but I suppose late is always better than never. Glad it all went well!