Classical music isn’t stuffy, and neither am I.
I believe creativity is a basic human need. Music is a creative expression that belongs to anyone willing to give it a go!
I can't say I didn't use to be stuffy and formal about classical music, though…
Music has always been my jam (pun intended). I come from a family that loves music. My dad always had "dad rock" playing in the car, the garage, the living room... you get the idea.
When I was 5, my parents gave me a little electric keyboard and started me in piano lessons soon after. By the time I picked up the flute in the fifth grade, I was hooked! In high school, once I decided I wanted to go to college for music, I started taking "my art" extremely seriously. Every solo, every audition, every concert– my obsession became making it all "perfect." My music was better, more artful, and more important than my friends' favorite emo-rock bands.
Cue the performance anxiety and perfectionistic tendencies!
I ended up recieving big scholarships to attend a prestigious conservatory-style institution for college. Conservatory training tries to introduce students to the concept that not everyone is aware of classical music. Not everyone chooses to spend their disposable income on tickets to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. They taught us that it is the responsibility of us musicians to introduce the masses to the wonderful world of western art music. I took music entrepreneurship classes and music business classes, but my final exams occurred inside the bubble of music school where we were all of the same mind:
Get the orchestra job. Get a college teaching job. You're not going to have to do all this entrepreneurship stuff! Yeah, ok…
Fast-forward through two and a half degrees in flute performance, performing in music festivals in France, Italy, and Alaska, and one very bad case of burnout.
I moved to Houston, TX on a whim. Friends told me that the private lesson-teaching business was booming, and I could teach flute lessons to fund my orchestra audition travels. Sounds good, right??
I accepted every student I could get my hands on to fill up my studio and tried to make enough money to pay my rent while also trying to pay for plane tickets for auditions. That's when I realized that I didn't have disposable income, and if I did have a few bucks, I wasn't going to spend them on a ticket to the symphony (no offense, Houston Symphony!).
I stopped for a moment and looked around at my students, their band programs, their families, and our neighborhoods. I realized that putting "classical music" on a pedestal only further separates musicians and artists from the people they serve– their audience, their community, their students. I further realized the great disservice that formal conservatory-style training pays to its young performers by continuing to be out of touch with the world spinning around them. The pandemic only made this more obvious.
That is why I choose to program new and unfamiliar works– because there is so much more to music than Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. (Don't get me wrong, I still love those old dead guys!)
That is why I do not train young flutists to be the next Emmanuel Pahud– I train them to love playing the instrument and to understand the value in playing it well.
That is why I started my podcast The Unclassical Musician– to encourage other young musicians to think for themselves. I remind them that they are a human first, musician second. That is why I ask them to really think about what they actually want out of their career– not what their teachers or parents told them they should want.
Creativity is a vital part of what it means to be human. Classical music doesn’t fit into a mold and neither do you!
These are a few of my favorite things:
My husband, Robby the CPA. Inspires me every day to be the best businesswoman I can be.
Fancy espresso drinks. After a brief stint at Starbucks, I’m still terrible at latte art…
My Bernedoodle, Arnie.
He just turned 1– he’s my son!
Traveling the world– especially traveling for music!
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
“Absolutely love [The Unclassical Musician]! Tori and her guests speak authentically about the music industry and offer practical tips and wise insight. Can’t recommend this enough!”
~Gianna Capobianco, podcast review
“Tori is incredibly transparent about the classical music world and and the struggles musicians face. So important to hear this very real and authentic perspective!”