Navigating Life After Music School: Finding Your "Why" with Brianne Borden
I'm very pleased to interview Brianne Borden for this post. Brianne and I got to know each other when we played together in a brass quintet at Arizona State University. Her passion for both trumpet and yoga were very evident and I'm so impressed by the way she has been able to intensely pursue these loves and combine them in a way that helps musicians all over the world. I highly recommend checking out yogaforallmusicians.com the virtual yoga studio that Brianne (along with her business partners, Amelia Rosenberger and Claire Howard) own and run.
ER: Tell us about your musical background and what you currently do. BB: I'm Visiting Assistant Professor at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, CEO & Co-Owner of Yoga for All Musicians, and Co-Owner of Nova Trumpet Collective. My full time gig is teaching at Crane, and I teach a studio of trumpet students, as well as teach a Musicians' Wellness course. I received my bachelor's in trumpet performance from SUNY Potsdam, my MM in performance from the University of Colorado Boulder, and my DMA from Arizona State University.
ER: What did you do during music school that helped prepare you for life after school? BB: Found something I was passionate about. I always knew that I was passionate about playing the trumpet and performing, but I was pretty much forced into the world of yoga due to a performance related injury. I had been playing too much and my body was not prepared for that, so I developed tendonitis and lateral epicondylitis. I started seeing a physical therapist, who then recommended I take up a regular yoga practice. I had done it throughout high school, but not with much intention or awareness, so taking classes regularly totally shifted my perspective on it. My injuries healed themselves and I noticed significant improvements on my mindset and performance anxiety. From there, it was an easy transition to dive in fully into the world of musicians' wellness, because I was so passionate about sharing what I had learned with anybody and everybody.
ER: What was your biggest challenge after graduating from music school? BB: For me, the biggest challenge is the unknown. I was very fortunate to land a job immediately after graduating with my doctorate. However, due to the fact that it's not a tenure track position, I still do not have assurance or stability in what my career looks like. I'm somebody that really thrives on planning and routine, so I struggle with the uncertainty of what the future holds.
ER: What were your career goals in school? Have they changed? BB: I went in to college as a music education major planning to become a high school band director. I immediately added Trumpet Performance as a double major, at the recommendation of my professor. As I progressed through my degree, I realized that I was a passionate educator, but not in a k-12 setting. I pivoted to plan to be a college professor, and I'm so grateful I did, because here I am!
ER: What actions did you take during the first year or two after graduation that were successful? BB: I've only been out of school for one full year at this point, and it has been a pandemic, so that's a very challenging question to answer! I will say, that I embraced every opportunity that showed up for me and worked hard to make the best of a challenging situation. It was a hard year to be a first year professor, but that meant that I learned a ton, and very quickly. I embraced the solitary nature of this past year, and put on a recital of music that was entirely free of collaboration. It was all unaccompanied, or multi-track recordings. I wouldn't have even thought to do that pre-pandemic, and there was certainly a learning curve, but it ultimately ended up being very successful.
ER: Have you ever had a big disappointment relating to music? What did you do to get back up? BB: There have been so many disappointments throughout the years. The thing that keeps me going is connecting to my "why". Every time I feel knocked down, I remember that I pursued this career because it puts something into the world that is so much bigger and more important than my own individual success or ego. Remembering WHY I went into the field in the first place really keeps me going when I feel like my path isn't as linear as I'd like it to be.
ER: Looking back, what do you consider to be the most important step that you took for your music career? BB: Deciding to attend Arizona State University for my doctorate and studying with David Hickman. On top of his incredible instruction, I was surrounded by other trumpet players that were working hard and sounding great. It immersed me in a culture of great musicianship. Additionally, I was able to develop my love for wellness not just into my dissertation, but also clinics and workshops that really launched my career in that realm.
ER: Tell us about your business, Yoga for All Musicians. BB: We are a virtual yoga studio, specifically for musicians! There are two other co-owners (Amelia Rosenberger & Claire Howard). We are passionate about yoga as a means of body awareness, injury prevention, anxiety management, community, and so many other things for musicians. We have 17 classes a week (Sundays are always free!) and have a team of 9 teachers total, that are absolutely amazing! Every one of our teachers is a musician and trained wellness professional, so they completely understand the music world from a perspective that we wouldn't get just walking into a yoga studio on the street.
ER: What is the most rewarding part of your work with Yoga for All Musicians? BB: Getting to know our incredible community. We have really amazing students from around the world that I get to connect with every single day. They all have such beautiful and unique paths in music and have made this past year feel so fulfilling.
ER: What advice would you give someone in music school or recently graduated from music school? BB: Dig deep to find out what your "why" is, and let every action you take come from that place. Avoid getting caught up in the competition and stay on your unique path.
Yoga for All Musicians website: www.yogaforallmusicians.com