Art and Management

As I sat their interviewing my dad, asking questions, listening to answers, taking notes, and asking follow-up questions, my attention was seized by one detail of my dad’s life. In college, he had spent nearly four years working on a degree in architecture, only to switch into urban planning and then go into systems analysis and financial management, which allowed him to get a job at Arthur Anderson (now Accenture), a job he has held for some twenty-four years, and has become a crucial part of his identity, through which he has met many of his best friends, as well as my mom and his wife. A few days later, I was talking to my dad about the interview, and he was asking me about what section I was likely to do for my monologue. He assumed I would tell one of his funny stories, like when his sister, my Aunt Sheryl, ate ant poison, believing it was candy, or a story that revealed his southern roots in a very funny way, like when he and his elementary school friends would help a local man, Mr. Wiggers, dig for potatoes in his garden. He seemed somewhat surprised when I told him I was taking the section about his switch from architecture to management in college.

I proceeded to explain how I had come to realize, the day after the interview, that his transition paralleled a very similar experience in my life. I enjoy music immensely, especially making it with other people. As a member of four bands, a jazz combo, alternative rock band, a funk band, and an experimental metal band, three of which I manage extensively, I have come to realize, especially through the jazz combo, that while I am not the most creative musician there, I have all the necessary management skills to make the band successful. My dad, in his interview, told me of his experiences in architecture school, where he often felt his work was far less creative than other students’ work, but realized that he was one of the few members of his class who could get his projects done on time. I see this in myself, while I am not nearly as creative soloist as the other members of my jazz combo, without me the group would be lacking a central management figure.

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For my jazz combo, I book all the groups’ gigs (often four or five a month), as well as organizing all the practices around all six members’ intensely busy schedules. While making management decisions within my jazz combo, and attempting to handle the strong personalities and egos of the different musicians, I have often turned to my dad for help on the most difficult decisions, which has made me realize even more how much I am really like him. When I was pressured by both the pianist and the bassist to fire the former drummer, who was not learning his music, not practicing, and generally not working very hard, I turned to my dad for help on how exactly I should handle the situation. My dad essentially explained to me how, as a manger, you handle these kinds of situations. He helped me decide how to carry out the “firing” in the most polite and professional manner possible, and also explained to me how you can prevent work, which music has pretty much become for me, and friendships from becoming intermixed, and how firing a member of a group does not mean you cannot be friends with them any longer. Through this interview, I came to realize even more so how similar I am to my dad.

I noticed that so many of the skills I have been taught come from him, and how my life runs parallel to so many of the things he did as a teenager and young adult. Even if I choose not to proceed to study music in college, the experiences I gained in it were beyond valuable, and the friends I made through it will likely be with me my whole life. Even with this feeling of a destiny in management, I still realize that I am young, and my dad did not find what he wanted to do until late in college, and maybe management is my future, and maybe art is my future, or maybe I have absolutely no idea what I will be doing twenty years from now.