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Angela Myles Beeching | Beyond Talent Consulting
The Professional Musician's Roadmap
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Beyond Talent:
Creating a Successful Career in Music
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Getting Your Gratitude On

MONDAY BYTES — November 23, 2015


It’s a little odd that we reserve this one Thursday in November to be thankful.

What if we built a thankfulness habit into our daily life practice, like brushing our teeth, playing scales, or doing our morning walk?

This isn’t simply about being polite and saying “thank you.” To be genuinely thankful requires being fully present.

And most of the time we aren’t fully present. We’re too busy in our own heads projecting into the future or obsessing over the past. We daydream about either what we’d like to have happen, or (more often) worry over what we’re afraid will happen.

Many of us spend a surprisingly high percentage of our waking hours manufacturing our own stress by:
1. mental list making: worrying over what needs to be taken care of next, and
2. worrying over what people are thinking or saying about us, or
3. obsessing over what they have said or thought about us, or
4. otherwise beating ourselves up over our shortcomings and fallibilities, or
5. complaining about people or situations beyond our control.

When we focus on future or past stressors it prevents us from being fully present, of bringing our best selves forward and doing our best work in the NOW.

Being thankful can short circuit the obsessive self-talk that keeps us focused on how we are being treated or perceived. Being thankful is about directing our attention to the gifts in our lives: the people, circumstances, and beauty we otherwise take for granted. It opens the doors to our making positive changes.

This week: build your thankfulness habit. Try being present in the morning when you first go outside — take a few moments to breathe and to look around you. Notice the gifts of the day, how you feel in your body, and what you appreciate in your surroundings. Try saying out loud or in your head what specifically your grateful for.

Then later in the day, try bringing yourself back to that “thankfulness place” — remembering what you found to be thankful for — try this before you start practicing, rehearsing, teaching, interacting with others. Notice the effect it has on your breathing, your outlook, your focus.

This simple habit can change the quality of your interactions with others and the quality of your work. A whole life is made up of such habits: they determine the quality of that life.

PS: Want some extra quick help with getting your gratitude on? Watch Oprah’s short video on keeping a gratitude journal.

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well


Your Blue Ocean

MONDAY BYTES — November 16, 2015

My friend Joyce (thank you!) recently wrote and mentioned The Blue Ocean Strategy and got me thinking about how this business strategy and can be applied to musicians.

As detailed in the widely popular book by Kim and Mauborgne, the Blue Ocean Strategy focuses on how businesses can find “uncontested market space” that renders competition irrelevant.

An example the authors use is Cirque du Soleil, the celebrated theatrical hybrid company that created a new form of circus. By eliminating costly “star acts” and animal acts, and by using original scores and evocative narratives to weave story lines that transcend language, Cirque never competed with traditional circuses, or for that matter traditional theatrical performances.

Instead, Cirque swims in the “blue ocean” of uncontested market space—as opposed to the crowded “red ocean” waters bloodied by competition.

How does this apply to musicians?

If you are yet another soprano auditioning for the same young artist programs with a gazillion of your peers, welcome to the red ocean.

If you are a flutist who moves to a new community planning to set up your private studio but find that the market there is already saturated with other excellent teachers you are up to your ears in the red ocean.

What’s the alternative?

The idea is not to compete in the crowded waters but instead find new ways to meet other needs of potential employers. What skills, repertoire, expertise do you possess that might be offered in an alternative format or package that would mean you have NO competition?

Where and how else could your skills meet the needs of others in your local area?

As long as you aren’t wedded to doing things the “same old way,” you have the possibility to re-energize your career and your artistry. To connect with new audiences, students, opportunities.


1. Nina Perlove, The Internet Flutist (the local competition for flute students is irrelevant if you’re teaching online)

2. Australian soprano and social entrepreneur Tania de Jong has a multi-faceted career fueled by her desire to be of service and create opportunities. She’s not competing for a diminishing number of auditioned opportunities.

3. Here are two ensembles whose creative projects keep them in blue ocean territory:
eighth blackbird

This week: Consider your potential Blue Ocean possibilities. And if you have other examples that come tim mind, I’d love to get anything you want to send!

Want help finding your Blue Ocean? Info on working with me is HERE.

Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well!

Meeting Yourself

MONDAY BYTE — November 9, 2015


Picard, Riker, and Data meet themselves in We’ll Always Have Paris

This past week’s “a-ha” moment for me came in the form of a workshop panelist’s comment about the development of her artistic voice. Composer Wang Jie (whose bio we looked at a few weeks ago here) made a comment about how as an undergraduate she hadn’t yet “met herself.” I was struck by this phrase and asked her to elaborate.

Her thought-provoking answer has been rattling in the back of my mind ever since. It not only suggests for me a new way of understanding how we learn and develop as artists, but it also gets at how we construct our identities—our sense of self.

Wang Jie explained how she experiences studying a piece of music. That each time she comes back to a work—whether it’s 3 months or 5 years later—that she discover new aspects, new possibilities in it, as though the piece has been transformed.

In these instances, Wang Jie says that what we’re actually discovering is something new in ourselves. It’s as though each time we experience a work we are “meeting ourselves.” This concept bundles together several ideas worth considering:

a) that we are all mysteries to ourselves and need something external (a work of art as mirror) in order to reflect back on ourselves and deepen our self awareness.

b) that our identities—both artistic and personal—are not static but always in development, as we absorb and react to what we encounter.

c) that our self-esteem is bound to how we habitually perceive ourselves and measure ourselves in relation to others. Based on this measurement, we construct our self-esteem and behave accordingly as though these perceptions were objective and static positions.

This is the classic “fixed” (vs. “growth”) mindset: the work of Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: the New Psychology of Success. A Stanford professor, she’s also a leading researcher on motivation. For a quick intro read this short interview with Carol here.)

Question for the Week: How mutable is your sense of self: do you see yourself as a work in progress?

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. And I’d love to hear about your “a-ha” moments—especially around understanding artistic identity and development!

For info on working with me: details are HERE.