Josh Setala ’24 on why he chose SFCM

Josh Setala SFCM RJAM

Matt Wilson and Jason Hainsworth played pivotal roles in helping him decide.

In his own words, Josh Setala (BM ’24) discusses why he chose SFCM.

I picked SFCM because of the RJAM faculty. I met Matt Wilson at this camp called Centrum Port Townsend. We got to work together for the week. At the end of the camp, I went up to him and said, “Hey, I know we never got to work together in an ensemble and I never got a lesson, but I really love the way you play. And I like being in your masterclasses and I'd love to work together more.” And he said, “Alright, cool. Well, I have a gig tomorrow in Seattle. If you come out we can talk some more.”

So I went to the gig. The first set was sold out so I stood outside and listened. Eventually, they let me in, and then we talked for over an hour. Matt told me, “Hey, I have a recording session tomorrow, you should come by.” So I went to that too. It really spoke of how generous he was with his time. That's the kind of person that I want to be and the kind of person that I want to work with. That's been the vibe of all the RJAM faculty I've met—they really care about the students and are super generous with their time. You send them an email, and they'll respond.

I think the biggest adversity that I faced was self-doubt. My mom helped me pick a school because I had a hard time deciding to go all-in with music. The other schools I applied to had the opportunity to do a dual degree, which I thought I would be really interested in. And so it was a lot of long talks, and just mulling over whether SFCM was really going to be the best fit. I questioned what I really wanted out of a career. Jason Hainsworth called me and I told him, “I really don't know about coming to a conservatory. I think an academic track might be better for me.” So he told a story about how he went to law school for a minute. And he just found that he was seeing his horn in the closet. All he wanted to do was play it, but he just didn't have the time. Ultimately, he ended up on a track where he's playing music and working as a professor and a dean. That really inspired me and I thought, “Okay, I'll give it a shot.”

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