Andrei pictured in his happy place: his sound cave
I love writing about the “stuff you don’t think about” when it comes to life as a musician, but in this ongoing series, I wanted to investigate something a little different: those who aren’t classical musicians, but studied it enough to reap the benefits in other aspects of lives.
One reason I chose this topic is very basic: “studying classical music is good for you” and while that’s a given, I wanted to personalize why. The other reason was to sort out my own personal experience with studying music to a certain level, which sometimes conflicted with my knowledge I didn’t want to be a performer. I didn’t realize the advantages until much later.
In this ongoing series, posted every week or so, I’ll be speaking with doctors, lawyers, marketing professionals, accountants, actors, arts administrators, and people in all kinds of fields who studied classical music and are thankful they did. I’ll keep this going until I run out of participants.
I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. Today, let’s meet Andrei Aldea, who does Information Technology by day, and Audio Engineering by night. Full disclosure: he was a former piano student of mine. He drove me crazy. He never practised, and once showed up to a recital totally unprepared, without his pieces memorized as he was supposed to, and when he turned to me and asked, “uh, can I do this with the music?” (all heads in the room swivelled to me.) I stared him down, and said in a voice I learned from my Asian mother, The Matriarch: “no.” (all heads swivelled back.) Although he knows he didn’t practise as much as he should have, he DID learn later on the value of his music lessons, and to this day, regularly thanks me for *never* giving up on him. (He has to return the favour when helping me with my home computer.) We’re friends today and we crack each other up.
Please summarize your current career, and your duties.
I currently work in IT as technical support specialist. This means that I troubleshoot and diagnose issues of a technical nature and communicate solutions in laymen’s terms. I basically have to technically “sight read” a situation and communicate a solution whilst maintaining confidence and professionalism. A lot of these transferal skills came from all those recitals you made me do.
What instrument(s) did you study, and at what stage in your life?
I started with piano lessons when I was 11 years old and continued until I was about 17. I then went to recording school straight out of high school and have maintained several internships in studios as well as freelancing over the years.
Were music lessons intended as a hobby or did you have a performing career in mind?
It was more of my mother “keeping up with the Joneses”. Later in life I saw that it grew into a larger love, hence my decision to go to recording school. I never saw myself being a performer but I do have fun up on stage every now again and even do the odd music video!
Was quitting your music lessons a welcome relief or a complete heart-wrenching moment of reckoning?
I wouldn’t say I ever quit. It’s much like a relationship except this one doesn’t leave. There are periods of up and down, periods of abandonment but I always find myself crawling back. If music is a part of you, it never truly leaves.
How did your classical music studies (and music theory, if you studied that too) impact your ability to do your job today?
DISCIPLINE, DISCIPLINE, DISCIPLINE (and recognizing the lack of it). I definitely still hear my squawking teacher after all these years, telling me to sit up straight. In all honesty, it really is the sense of routine, learning how to practice, breaking down things analytically and being able to break down a problem into its core components. (*Editor’s note: I “squawk”??)
Is classical or music in general (playing, listening, attending concerts, getting your kids to practice) a part of your life today? If not, do you think you’ll return to it?
All the ear training definitely helped, that’s for sure … especially when it comes to the Audio Engineering side of things. I go out and enjoy events and concerts as much as time and energy permits. Overall, having done music has ingrained the ritual of practice and routine. Last time I went to anything classical was with you (2 Pianos 4 Hands). Yeah, it’s a lot of the “dark room genre” type of gigs I go to but I’ll occasionally find myself catching live music at bars or festivals. For example when I lived in Montreal I enjoyed their jazz fest. Also I switch it up every now again and pick a wildcard show of some small local band I’ve never heard and check out their act that night (open mic type stuff). It helps to keep things in perspective and stay open- minded about what’s going on outside my regular scope (musically, anyhow).
Want to share your experience how studying classical music shaped your life and career?