Alexandra Simpson ’21 gets candid about her career

Alexandra Simpson '21 SFCM violin

The SFCM graduate violist talks about fear of failure and the dream that keeps her going.

In her own words, Alexandra Simpson ’21 discusses how every experience she has brings her closer to having the chamber music career of her dreams.

Retaining a sense of direction and hope has been very difficult. It's really hard. It's easy to feel like, “Oh, my gosh, should I change careers? Should I give up on this dream to do the easier thing?” As a musician, it's very competitive, it’s highly selective, and even if you do everything right, if you don't get lucky, then you don't get lucky. Sometimes it’s about being willing to delay certain parts of life to continue pursuing your dream. And you have to ask yourself, how long are you willing to do that for?

I'm holding out to play chamber music, whether that's with a group or festivals or both. That's my big dream. I get so much joy out of playing chamber music, and I feel like I play my best in a chamber group. It turns on another level of awareness for me–it really engages me in a way that most things don't. Focusing on something different would be easier, like developing my skills as a teacher and increasing my studio or trying to work on the more commercial sides of being a musician. If I were to work on my own, I could do something like start a wedding music business. It's not that these things are easy, it's just that it's a more sure path. If you do A plus B plus C, this is going to be your end result. Whereas with chamber music, it's like you can add all those things together and still get a zero.

I'm most afraid of failure. It's never going to be easy to give your heart to something and fail at it, even small failures. I fail all the time at stuff that I put a lot of work and effort and thought into. It's almost worse when you do a really good job and you're really proud of the way that you performed and then you don't get it. But then it’s also hard when you know that, ‘Oh, I messed that up that. Oh, I could have done it like this.’ Everything is a learning experience. It all adds up to something. You could compare it to chiseling yourself into a perfect statue–everything that chips away is just making you closer to looking like Michelangelo’s David. But you still feel that pain of getting pieces of yourself chipped away. It’s addition through subtraction. It's ultimately a positive thing.”

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