100 Life Lessons I Learned From Music

In honor of my 100th blog post, I thought it would be nice to share with you 100 life lessons that I have learned from music.

My decision to begin playing the clarinet at age 10 was innocuous enough – band sounded much more fun than gym, and most of my friends were joining band. I had no idea that music would become my chosen profession.

Music has taken me around the world, and along the way, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to meet new people and experience other cultures. My clarinet has allowed me to live in Paris – the city of my dreams – for the past two years. I’ve made lifelong friends from around the world through music, and I’ve had so many incredible opportunities as a musician.

Music has taught me a lot. I’ve learned how to circular breathe; the importance of subdivision; the differences between the French and American clarinet schools; and countless other lessons along the way.

Most of the lessons I’ve learned along the way are not just specific to musicians. Music teaches you so much about life, culture, and interpersonal relations. Here are 100 life lessons I’ve learned from music:


  1. Listen to others.
  2. When the going gets tough, take deeper breaths.
  3. Analysis leads to paralysis.
  4. If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, you’re dead.
  5. Great things are created when you work together.
  6. Brush your teeth after every meal.
  7. Nerves are normal. Nerves mean you care about something and want to do your best.
  8. Practice proper posture.
  9. Eye contact = effective communication
  10. Imitation is NOT the greatest form of flattery.
  11. The rate of failure is high, and the rate of success is low – persevere.
  12. Learn to practice mental resilience.
  13. Believe in yourself.
  14. First impressions matter.
  15. You are not in competition with everyone else in the world.
  16. “Practice and hope, but never hope more than you practice.” Kalmen Opperman
  17. Success is 90% hard work and 10% luck.
  18. Learn how to accept compliments graciously.
  19. Geeks and nerds are just people that found their passion at a young age.
  20. Build a strong support network of friends, family, and colleagues.
  21. You are a lifelong student – never stop learning.
  22. Enjoy the journey.
  23. Treat every performance as if it is your last.
  24. Learn from the past to create a better future.
  25. You have to make sacrifices for what you love.
  26. There are many paths to the same destination.
  27. The most valuable teacher is experience.
  28. You learn more from failure than you do from success.
  29. Always have a goal to work towards.
  30. Breaks and mental health days are essential.
  31. Always write in pencil.
  32. Learn how to quickly recover from mistakes.
  33. It’s better to spend 1 focused hour doing something than 3 non-focused hours.
  34. Every person has something valuable to offer.
  35. Learn about other people and cultures.
  36. If you focus too long on what’s behind you, you will crash into what’s in front of you.
  37. Perfection is never the goal – artistry is.
  38. A little superstition never hurt anybody.
  39. Know when to be methodical and when to be spontaneous.
  40. Embrace uncertainty.
  41. Don’t cry over chipped reeds.
  42. Celebrate your victories.
  43. Celebrate your friends’ victories.
  44. Go to as many museums, concerts, and galleries as possible.
  45. Spend your money on experiences, not things.
  46. When in doubt, consult a specialist.
  47. Count carefully.
  48. Promote yourself.
  49. Invest in yourself.
  50. Create a polished press kit.
  51. You are your toughest critic.
  52. Never stop believing in yourself.
  53. Never be afraid to ask questions.
  54. Maintain the curiosity and wonder of a child.
  55. Be critical but fair.
  56. Nothing is one-size-fits-all. Be flexible and adapt to new situations.
  57. Explore new ideas and places.
  58. Express yourself.
  59. Your competition is not your enemy.
  60. Pick through your feedback and take what you think is valid.
  61. There is nothing like a good night’s sleep.
  62. Money isn’t everything. Learn to live modestly.
  63. Sign up for rewards and loyalty programs (hotels, airlines, coffee shops, etc)
  64. Project confidence, even when you don’t feel confident.
  65. It’s ok to ask for help when you need it.
  66. Art only becomes art when it is shared with others.
  67. Know when to blend in and when to stand out.
  68. Know when to be a leader and when to be a follower.
  69. Don’t hold others to different expectations than you have for yourself.
  70. Do things that make you uncomfortable.
  71. Take lots of pictures to remember your experiences.
  72. Keep in touch with people you meet along the way.
  73. Reach out to others in your field – networking is important.
  74. Professionals are normal people too – just with more experience.
  75. Soak up every scrap of information you can from others.
  76. Always have a pencil handy.
  77. Never be the only one caught playing during the silence.
  78. Invest in a pair of comfortable dress shoes.
  79. You can never have too many black pants.
  80. Take advantages of any available resources (through your school, work, library, etc)
  81. Spread the wealth and pay it forward.
  82. Don’t be afraid to take chances.
  83. Keep good records.
  84. Always send a thank you card.
  85. Remain humble and grateful.
  86. Follow your dreams, wherever they may take you.
  87. You’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did.
  88. Take care of your body.
  89. Stay hydrated.
  90. Don’t be a copycat.
  91. Be assertive without being arrogant.
  92. Mistakes are inevitable.
  93. Find your niche and leave your mark.
  94. Embrace your differences – they’re what make us special.
  95. “To achieve great things, two things are needed – a plan and not quite enough time.”  Leonard Bernstein
  96. “Give it all you’ve got, then crescendo!” Leonard Bernstein
  97. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  98. Love every second of what you do.
  99. Live each day to the fullest.
  100. Have fun. If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth your time or energy.

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