Five Music Lessons That Become Life Lessons

CaitlinIMG_1439 Jodoin is a Toronto based tuba player with a passion for music education. A graduate from the University of Toronto, Caitlin earned a Bachelor of Music in 2017. She is also currently enrolled in teachers college and excited to convocate in June 2018 with a Bachelor of Education. Caitlin has performed in the Hannaford Youth Band, the Weston Silver Band, the Toronto Community Orchestra, and Kingston Brass. She especially enjoys busking throughout the year with other musicians. To fulfill her passion for music education, Caitlin teaches privately, runs low brass masterclasses, and teaches at the National Music Camp of Canada.

You can find more about Caitlin on her Facebook or Instagram, @caitlintuba

For those who have been at a crossroads in life (like I am currently, about to finish up a teaching degree), understand that it is a transitional stage when you need to figure out a number of things. While brainstorming what I might do come September, I’ve been trying to re-evaluate and formulate my goals. Since music and the arts were created to reflect and express things about life, I’ve decided to write about 5 lessons that not only apply to music, but to life as well. 

1. Breathe
This is something that as brass players we know all too well – it is essential to brass playing. We practice breathing to fuel our sound, play in time, play with others, and prepare for what we’re about to play. There is nothing more serene than hearing the breath at the beginning of a piece. Players are preparing to play, and hyper focused on what they are about to create. Lately I’ve been thinking about breathing consciously not only while playing, but in everyday life. We all need a reminder sometimes to take a moment to breathe. I forget so much that I got a tattoo on my wrist that says “breathe”! Life can become so overwhelming and busy, that we often forget to take a moment to breathe and focus on what our goals are for the day, week, month, year, or lifetime. Mindful breathing can be extremely beneficial.

2. Listen
We know that this is something very obvious in music, but it’s also so important in life! We need to listen to others and listen to ourselves. How we react to that is also very important; should we blend, should we stand out, who has a solo or who is speaking, how can we support them, how can we be supported? As human beings, we want our voice to be heard. If someone is actively listening to us, we feel important. I think it’s also extremely crucial to listen to your body. I was diagnosed with celiac disease about 4 years ago now and I can say that listening to my body has helped not only my nutrition, but my intuition as well. “Trust your gut” so the saying goes. As we go through life, whether it’s on a musical path or not, listening to others and yourself will help you and your relationships flourish.

3. Embrace the Dissonance.
I have a western, classically trained ear. When I first started at the University of Toronto in theory class, we were trying to completely avoid dissonance. But, I think it’s beneficial to sit in that discomfort and embrace it for what it is. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m in a transitional phase in my life. I graduated with a Bachelor of Music in June 2017. I’m currently in teachers college, about to graduate in June 2018. I decided just over a month ago that I wanted to pursue a masters in performance. For anyone who has known me for any length in time, knows that I never saw myself as a musician capable of being a professional tuba player. My anxiety around performing was debilitating and discouraged me from the route of performance. However, in December 2017, I had an extremely eye-opening experience. I attended at Christmas concert put on by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra featuring the Canadian Brass and the whole evening was so inspiring and was a series of completely unexpected events. It was one of those nights where if I had turned left instead of right at any point in the evening, it would have turned out SO differently. My take away from this night was, in the paraphrased words of Nelson Mandela, to make choices reflecting my hopes, not my fears. I’ve decided to take risks or suffer knowing I’ve lost the chance. Not knowing if I will be teaching in Canada or anywhere in the world, attending a school for performance, attending music festivals and conferences, is all extremely unsettling- but exciting! I would much rather chase my dreams because life starts the moment you step outside of your comfort zone and into the dissonance.

4. One bad note ≠ a bad player.
I remember in high school always thinking that if I messed up one note, that meant I was a bad player. And now, I do still have to ask myself that – especially when thinking about auditions. Of course many things go into playing like articulation, dynamics, musicality, etc, but would one bad note keep me from getting a job? I like to think not. This also applies to life in the sense that one bad day does not equal a bad life. I don’t know how many times I have been so emotional over a bad day and thought that it would drastically affect my week. Each day is a new day. Similar to being a great musician, there are so many things that can go into having a great day. Finding the things that make you happy, confident, and grateful are paramount when finding the good things about you as a musician and in life.

5. Create Beauty.
When I say create beauty, I don’t necessarily mean create something that sounds beautiful or looks beautiful.. But rather something that feels beautiful because it’s authentic and YOU. I’ve recently come across a term that has deeply resonated with me from the Greek language, but does not directly translate to English. However, this is the spirit of the word:

Meraki – to do something with soul, creativity or love; to put something of yourself into       your work.

This is exactly what I hope to do with everything in my life. My performing, networking, schooling, teaching, cooking, creating, painting, practicing, and things I have yet to discover. This Greek term has rekindled a passion within me to create things that are authentic to me – and the result is in fact beauty. We are all unique and have so much to contribute to this world musically or otherwise. I think that ‘meraki’, or to create beauty, is truly essential for a life well lived and loved.


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