• Katie Kim

Thankful to Be Here: A Reflection

The fall and winter months are a time of reflection and gratitude. As the year comes to a close and I consider all that has changed in both my professional and personal lives, I thought I would share with you the story of how I came to do what I do.


The beginning of 2022 was rough for me. I had begun to think I'd made a mistake in taking the position of Education & Community Engagement Coordinator at the La Jolla Music Society. Though I loved the organization and its mission, I was drained from the daily 45-minute commute to La Jolla and tired of giving up my evenings and weekends to facilitate rehearsals and performances for guest artists. Worst of all, it left me no time to perform or teach - two things I had studied, was passionate about, and knew that I wanted to pursue after college. I felt like I had compromised on my dreams of being a performing artist and teacher for the sake of a secure job.


In the spring, I decided to take the plunge. I resigned from my 9-5 position, took a month to re-orient myself, and worked on a plan for developing my own private studio. Though I had clear goals in mind, I was still hesitant to make the change. It was not so much my flute-playing or teaching abilities I doubted, but rather my resilience and entrepreneurial skills. Was I ready to go it alone, start something new, and become 100% "self-employed"?


These past few months have been a learning process, and a road not without its bumps, but I'm so thankful to be where I am today. If I had to sum up the 3 biggest things I've learned so far:

  1. You don't ask, you don't get. A former flute teacher shared this with me in a lesson many years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. My solo venture has made me less afraid of taking risks, putting myself "out there," and being the first to reach out - whether through volunteering at a school, asking about open audition spots, or simply handing out business cards. The answer will always be "no" if you don't ask in the first place.

  2. Mindset Matters. The first month in, I stopped referring to myself as a "freelancer" and instead adopted "small-business owner." This subtle shift in mindset has made all the difference in the way I think about my work, attract clients, and handle my income. I found Andrea Miller's "Music Studio Startup" podcast, especially this episode about the "Profit First" mindset, to be particularly helpful in getting my little studio off the ground. There's a podcast for every topic under the sun nowadays!

  3. Dreaming is an important part of the process. When first starting out, I set aside 15 minutes each morning visualizing what my ideal teaching studio looked like. Some of my goals were very attainable, such as creating a clear, concise studio policy and organizing a recital. Other goals were more lofty, like creating a recital series with a community partner, or planning a series of technique classes for my students. No matter the scope of my idea, I always write it down in my notebook. I've found that dreaming big helps keep me motivated, and I'm reminded of this quote from Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland: "Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." I'm here to vouch for this morning routine.


I still doubt myself sometimes. I often wonder if trading practicality for passion was an unwise decision, especially since I will have to start paying off student loans soon. But in my dark and doubtful moments, it's been the small successes that provide me the most encouragement. Today, I'm a third of the way to my goal of 30 private students. I've successfully organized a summer recital, joined an orchestra, and have some exciting performance engagements lined up. My journey, still ongoing, has affirmed that I am indeed capable of going after things I want. Most significantly, playing flute is a joyful experience again, and not something I fit into hour-long lunch breaks.


I'm thankful to my own parents, who have generously let me turn their office into my studio space. I'm thankful to past band teachers and my current network of musician friends for student referrals. I'm thankful to my friends who support me by being in the audience of every one of my gigs, no matter how small. Most of all, I am thankful for my students' families who have trusted me to help their kids along their musical journeys, and to my students, whose progress and achievements are the greatest measures of success I could ever hope for.


So to you reading this: thank you! I would not be where I am today without your support.


With gratitude,

Katie



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