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.