Setting Personal and Professional Goals

It’s hard to believe that December is already upon us!  I am extremely thankful for the week-long Thanksgiving break.  It was nice to spend a lot of quality time with my family and also take a few moments for myself.

November was a busy month. On the 17th, I had the opportunity to perform solo alongside three of my amazing colleagues (Helen Kim, Justin Bruns, and Kenn Wagner) who are world-class performing violinists and are some of the top players in the area. For over a year Kenn had been asking me to perform with him (accompanied by my university orchestra). I simply could not do it last school year because I was so bogged down with trying to complete my dissertation, however this year there were no excuses!

It was decided that we would perform Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins in B Minor. This was my first real solo opportunity with an orchestra, and I knew the level of performance would be extremely high given the company, so I was quite nervous.  Luckily my colleagues are kind, amazing, and supportive people.  They provided a comfortable environment in which to play. They were especially patient and helpful with my all-campus university orchestra that consists of mostly non-music majors. My students and I feel so fortunate that these incredible violinists were willing to share their talents and perform with us.  I know this sort of opportunity doesn’t happen everywhere!

“I feel that it is important for our students to know that we are musicians who can still perform.”

Performing as a soloist definitely put me out of my comfort zone, however it helped rejuvenate an emphasis on performing by forcing me to focus on my instrument. I really miss performing and haven’t done very much since moving to Georgia. The hustle and bustle of a new job, presenting, conducting, a dissertation, and a busy family life didn’t allow me the time to dedicate to my instrument. November’s performance opportunity really helped bring me back! This fall I have been quite diligent about practicing and it felt really great to regain the musical bond with my instrument. I’m going to make it a goal to continue to practice as often as I can.  Scheduling the time to practice is the key to actually making practice a reality. In our busy professional lives as teachers, it is easy to let practicing go. Modeling and playing along with my orchestra is not a substitute for true, dedicated practice.  I feel that it is important for our students to know that we are musicians who can still perform.

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” 
― Henry Ford

Away from the music field, I’ve also pursued a personal fitness goal – to complete a half marathon (13.1 miles). In the past I’ve done several races such as the 5K, 10K, and even a 15K, but the half marathon was a fairly big difference. Over the past several years, I’ve enjoyed staying fit by doing some running. I should note that I have not always been a “runner.” In high school, I could barely run a mile! I have found that running has helped me deal with stress and improves my physical and emotional wellness.

With the support and encouragement of my wife, she signed both of us up for the “Triple Peach” through the Atlanta Track Club.  The Triple Peach is a three race series beginning with the Peachtree Road Race on the 4th of July, the Atlanta 10 Miler in October, and concludes with the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving. I am now proud to say that I’ve done the Triple Peach with the completion of my first half marathon on Thanksgiving morning! Attaining this goal was not easy. I don’t love running, but I do love how i feel when I’m done. Sometimes in the middle of a long run I really hate it, but once I’m done I feel amazing and I realize that the effort was all worth it. Running is definitely mind over matter!

In life, we have our ups and downs.  But it is how we handle the events in our lives that really matter.  I feel like I endured a great deal in my lifetime and am finally coming to peace with many of the things that used to bother me. I’ve let go of negativity and the little (non important) things and am only focusing on what really matters.  I’m extremely thankful for my incredible wife and beautiful boys and am also grateful for the professional opportunities that continue to fall into place.


As educators we must continue to learn and also set goals for ourselves, no matter how big or small. It is essential that we strive to push through adversity and become our best. There are no limits.