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Zuill Bailey

Thursday, 19 December 2013

The US cellist recalls some unusual advice from tutor Joel Krosnick

I was told that as a musician I should try to stay poor for as long as I could

When I was twelve years old, I gave my concerto debut: the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto no.1. Just after I’d come off stage, a well-dressed man tapped me on the shoulder and said he had some important advice for me: ‘If you can discover what you love to do, and find a way to make your life revolve around that, you’ll never work a day in your life.’ I’d just had the most amazing experience of my life and I couldn’t imagine wanting to do anything else, so I made up my mind in a second. It’s true – since that day, I don’t think I really have worked a day in my life. I never found out who he was.

When I was studying for a master’s at Juilliard, I was offered several opportunities as a musician – all financially attractive. But my teacher, Joel Krosnick, told me that as a musician I should try to stay poor for as long as I could. I realised he wasn't talking about money at all, but about keeping the focus on my dreams and aspirations in a crucial time and not being distracted from trying to achieve them. I think that, for a 20-year-old aspiring soloist, it was good advice.

Photo: Lisa Marie Mazzucco

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