Updating the Blog: Reshaped by the Pandemic

It’s been way too long since my last blog post. I thought that I would do more writing, especially during the quarantine portion of the pandemic, but my priorities seemed to push me towards other activities. For an introvert musician, the first year of the pandemic was actually pretty great. I love practicing and playing alone, and I really don’t crave that much social interaction. I’m definitely a homebody, and not having any commitments reduced my stress and made an instant positive impact on my mental health. Also, with the musical world being put on hold, I didn’t have to compare myself to anyone, and I didn’t have to be disappointed by being overlooked for gigs and not being included in the music community. Yes, my exile from the music community was self-inflicted, but it still hurts.

For a little more context, I live in the Southeastern U.S., so most people have operated as if things were normal since August of 2020. Somehow, I didn’t catch COVID until July 2022, so I guess I did pretty well in terms of protecting myself. I’m glad that we are entering the endemic stage, because the world needs to move on and figure out how to live with this virus, just like we did with the flu. Personally, I didn’t enjoy wearing a mask, but it was a necessary evil. I wear glasses and have a beard, so wearing a mask was a nuisance; however, I did enjoy the anonymity that the mask provided. It was almost like a security blanket. Plus, those 5-6 months of quarantine at the beginning were amazing for me. I know that a lot of people suffered, and I really do sympathize, but my small family unit thrived during quarantine. Yes, being teachers while also having to teach our own young boys was difficult, but it was also refreshing to be at home and have the time to enjoy life and do things together. I hate that so many people have died and been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but my mental health during the first year of the pandemic was great.

The pandemic just prolonged the inevitable for me. Before the world shut down, I was already struggling with several things: hating my job as a public school teacher, being passed over for numerous jobs (not just college positions), doubting the validity of my career as a musician, and wondering if I should just give up on music and move on. Quarantine was like a really long paid vacation. I felt good after that period, and the COVID restrictions that were in place for the following school year actually improved things. The 20/21 school year was the best year in my short teaching career in public education. Unfortunately, as things began to go back to normal, those issues and doubts came back.

The moment that put all of these negative issues back in motion actually started with a job opportunity, just not the one that I wanted. I won’t go into details, but I lost out on a college position that I really wanted, so I fell back into depression. From there, I accepted a different public school teaching position, because I felt that a change of scenery might be helpful. This new position also seemed like a good opportunity and a step in the right direction for my career; however, it ended up being one of the worst experiences of my life. It was a combination of things: very long commute, bad students, bad parents, and the administration was even worse. My depression worsened due to these factors and more, and I wasn’t sleeping or enjoying life at all, so I knew that something needed to change. I also stopped playing horn, which I think attributed a lot to my negative state of mind as well. Long story short, I made a change and resigned from my public school job.

To say that the past few months have been interesting is an understatement. I’ve been fighting for as much adjunct college work as I can get, trying to recruit more private students, and just figuring out how to make things work. It hasn’t been easy, but I have to stay positive and keep fighting, which is why I’m back here working on my blog. Very recently, I received my first full-time college teaching offer, which I was unable to accept. Even though this was what I have been working towards my whole life, I had to make the best decision for my family, so I declined the offer. My hope is that this positive experience will help me to continue to move forward.

In the past my blog has been dedicated mostly to discussing my playing injury and personal struggles with mental health. While I am going to continue to write about those things and continue to be an advocate for change, I know that I need to focus on broadening the scope of my writing. My goal is to write more from an academic perspective, especially concerning horn pedagogy and my other musical interests. I also want to write more, because this is something that I need. It is fulfilling, and it keeps me active and engaged. When I’m away from the blog, it becomes too easy for me to slip back into old habits, and especially at this point in my career, I need to keep moving forward and stay in it or else good things will never happen. So, I look forward to writing more, and hopefully I can keep myself on track and actually finish a bunch of projects that I started a while back.

Here’s to making The Cor Report a safe place where people can come to learn more about the horn.