One of my favorite scriptures says the following, "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass."
When you are building your credibility as an artist, or a professional in any field, you will at first take almost any opportunity that comes your way. Then, as your schedule expands, your time dwindles, and you achieve a higher "status" or "profile", you may start to turn down certain gigs. Perhaps they don't pay you anything, or the fee is very minimal. Maybe the crowd is too small. Maybe they're asking you to do something that doesn't align with your style or brand. I can respect all of those things, and very often they are necessary. However, I recently learned a wonderful lesson from the notion that "no opportunity is too small."
A few years ago, I was quite busy with concerts, teaching, and school. My debut album with Shadow Mountain Records had just hit #1 on the Billboard Classical Traditional chart, and opportunities to perform were plentiful. At the time, I was asked to give a workshop at a local music store. They asked me to speak on one of my favorite topics - how to market yourself as a musician. They said I would get to keep all of the ticket revenue. They said their numbers at previous events had been scarce. I was thinking maybe 20-30 people meant "scarce". Well, four people ended up coming. So I think I made a whopping $20 or so for all of the preparation I put into this one hour lecture, sharing some of the most valuable wisdom my parents and I had paid thousands of dollars and thousands of hours to accumulate.
Of those four people, one of them was a a seventeen year-old girl and her mom, who later became one of my favorite students I've ever taught. I helped her prepare for her college audition at the University of Utah for her undergraduate work, and she went on to receive a generous piano scholarship and study with my former teacher while earning her bachelors degree. As an added bonus, I was just hired on at the University of Utah, and will be teaching this same girl - who is now in her masters program - this coming semester.
Three days ago I got a text from a woman that said, "I'm not sure if you remember me, but many years ago, I was one of the people in attendance at the lecture you gave at a local music store. We'd like to hire you to come and play at our annual workshop for our teen group. My friend and I were both in attendance and we would love to have you also give a lecture to inspire our young students."
Are you kidding me? That's a 100% success rate!! Granted, there were four people there, but two amazing opportunities came from it. I was able to help change this incredible young woman's life in helping her prepare for a career in music, and now I again have the opportunity to hopefully inspire more young musicians.
I say none of this to boast, because I firmly believe that God places each of us in unique situations, of which we often do not know the outcome or impact. I only say this to reinforce the critical lesson of never allowing arrogance to have a place in our hearts. I'm no better than you, and you're no better than me. We are equal, and must use the talents and gifts we've been given wisely, which may often prevent us from seizing every opportunity. However, when we have the time, we should always take each opportunity afforded to us to bless, enrich, and inspire others, no matter how small the gig might be, for we have no idea what rich rewards may manifest at a later date.
About the Blog
The musings of a (crazy) concert pianist
Remember to download Josh's free piano technique training here, showing his #1 tip to fix tricky spots in your pieces!