Maria Schneider’s Advice to Young Composers

When artists break through by doing what they think will make them famous, not what they love, expressing their “real” selves becomes far harder.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: What advice would you give a young composer starting out today?

Maria Schneider: I think you just stumped me. The best career advice that I could give to a—run! No, no. You know, I guess it would just be that, that doing everything you do with love and enthusiasm, you know? Music and art, I think it just has to have that passion inside of it and if you do that, I really believe things attract to that. I think one thing we’re just missing in this world are things that are just honest and true, you know, so if somebody is keeping their work, not losing sight and the feeling of honesty, the honest relationship between themselves and their music, they should really trust that and never step outside of what they should, they feel they love to do for what they think they should be doing. That’s always a step away and it’s hard to step back once you do that. I mean, once you step away and you start doing something that you think you should be doing, what happens is you end up attracting an audience to that thing. And then if you want to move back and you say, “Well, wait, this is who I really am, now I have my audience, now I want to show you guys what I really love to do.” You’re going to lose them and you’re going to have to have the courage to completely destroy all of that and start over again. So it’s the best way is just to stick with who you are.

Recorded on December 11, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen