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Navigating Life After Music School the Karen Cubides Way


Photo Credit: Sara Bill Photography


This week I talked with multi-woodwind artist and CEO of Cubides Artist Services, Karen Cubides. One part of Cubides Artist Services is the Emerging Artist Program. “Open to artists currently enrolled in a degree program, or in the first five years of their professional careers, the Emerging Artist Program provides a customized suite of services that address the complex personal and professional needs of those at the start of their journey.” As a member of the Emerging Artists program I have received bi-weekly coachings from Karen for the past two years. Karen has helped me to create a better online presence, stay accountable to goals, and consider opportunities that I previously would not have thought were possible for me. An example of the last is applying to present at the International Trombone Festival and International Women’s Brass Conference. This is something I would not have imagined I was qualified for, but with Karen’s encouragement I applied and ended up being accepted to present at both of these conferences!


ER: Tell us about your musical background and what you currently do.

KC: I'm a multi-woodwind person. I loved playing all the wind instruments and really decided that saxophone was the cooler one :D I went to Interlochen for high school and then Boston Conservatory for college. I've always loved orchestra and wanted to work in one.

ER: What was your biggest challenge after graduating from music school?

KC: All the stuff I needed to unlearn. A lot of belief barriers needed to be broken and I had to learn how to make a living and get healthy.


ER: What did you do during music school that helped prepare you for life after school?

KC: I was able to acquire experience. I was blessed to study in Boston and I had so many freelancing opportunities and big projects I created on my own. "You can't improvise experience" so my hands-on approach in college really prepared me to run my own biz.

ER: What were your career goals in school? Have they changed?

KC: I wanted to be the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. :D Yes, they have changed so much! I love being my own boss and my goals are to disrupt our industry of preconceived notion that our worth comes from what we do and not who we are.

ER: What actions did you take during the first year or two after graduation that were successful?

KC: I found a therapist and a coach. I also have always had mentors and most of them not in music.

ER: What was the impetus for starting your own business?

KC: After graduation I was hired for a full-time position working in administration for the Boston Symphony. I started getting to know the musicians and realized that many of them weren’t fulfilled by their symphony job alone. Many wanted to pursue other creative musical endeavors. I saw that there was a need for a service that helped musicians with their careers. I was passionate about helping musicians and wanted to fill this need. I also experienced many prejudices as a young Latina woman. I decided that rather than continue to struggle against these prejudices I would be my own boss. Building my business didn’t happen overnight, but my strong purpose to serve and help others kept me motivated to make it happen.


ER: What advice would you give someone in music school or recently graduated from music school?

KC: You don't have to wait till you graduate to make an impact or to have an opinion. You are already enough and 100% capable of reaching any of your goals.

ER: Anything else you want to add?

KC: There is room for all of us to succeed. Put your blinders on and give yourself permission live your best life. It does not have to be hard or painful, living in your purpose is easy.

ER: How can people find you?

Website: www.karencubides.com

Instagram: @karen.cubides and @karencubidesagency

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