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Final post: What would you say to your 23-year-old self?

Here's thefinal part of What advice would you give to your 23-year-old self? 

The topic seems to connect with lots of people, and it's definitely been a very interesting learning experience to read contributions coming from musicians in different ages and stages of career.  


Rory McLeod

Violist, co-director of Pocket Concerts

When I was 23, I was about to start my first full-time music degree. I had finished a BA at McGill and had spent a year and a half teaching English as a second language and practising viola to get ready for auditions. I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do, and was ready to work hard, and of course I had no idea where my studies would take me. I just wanted to see what I could do if I focused fully on music.

So, young Rory, here is my message for you, now that I’m 34 and I know EVERYTHING.

“If you want to get satisfaction out of your relationships, your career, and your free time, the best advice I can offer is to stay in touch with your values. Figure out what you care about, what you think the world needs more of, and as much as possible, make your life and your work about making those things happen.

Your career will take on much more meaning when you start focusing on your role in the community, and line it up as much as possible with your artistic goals and interests.The more you can align what you care about with what you’re good at and what you enjoy, the more you’ll get out of your work.

Express yourself as fully as you are able.Learn as much as you can from as many people and experiences as possible.

Your mind, body, and emotions are all part of the same fabric. Take care of all of them, and ask for help when you need it.If you’re in pain, examine your habits and make some changes. When possible, learn to rest before you hurt yourself.

Learn to recognize your own negative feelings, and express them.It’s better to confront a problem than to ignore it, but first you have to learn to recognize your own emotions. This is more difficult than you might think.

Be kind, but try not to worry so much about being liked by everyone.Sometimes it’s better to be honest and disappoint someone than to keep smoothing things over.

Finally: commitment, courage, and enthusiasm are all skills that can be developed and strengthened. Practise them.


Jennifer Murphy


"If I had to choose one piece of advice to give to my 23 year old self, it would be to take all of the knowledge and wisdom from the people around me, and pour it into the development of my already existing musical voice.Instead of focusing on what I believed I should be doing, I would encourage my younger self to begin to trust and follow my instincts in order to create a stronger understanding of my own playing. Everyone is different, and everyone approaches and understands music differently, and that is what makes it so special. I am now beginning to understand the wisdom behind a quote that I first read at a very young age, by none other than Piglet from Winnie the Pooh - "The things that make me different are the things that make me me!" Everyone has something uniquely theirs to offer and all of these things are equally valid and equally beautiful."