Frequently Asked Questions
If you're a classical musician, how is writing a part of your career?
Writing was one of those hobbies that became so crucial to my identity that it naturally found a place within my creative practice.
In my first semester of college, the standard of perfection by which classical musicians are deemed "successful" disheartened me.
In the practice room, I was always reminded of how I fell short by the sounds of my fellow flutists practicing down the hall (CMU had been my dream school, and I was part-exhilarated and part-terrified when my flute professor accepted me).
After weeks of constant discouragement, I started writing "poems" in practice rooms, small messages to inspire myself to continue practicing, while also giving my frustration a space to exist.
Writing in practice rooms was a secret habit that eventually blossomed into a way of life in which not only flute playing, but also writing was central to my creative practice. In creative writing, my love for imperfection (which often comes hand in hand with sincerity) and expression coexist.
I write because perfection alone, though I strive for it every day in the practice room, is not enough. I write because words listen; words do not demand perfection of me, only sincerity and creativity.
What do you do with a degree in Global Studies and Flute Performance? Play the flute in many different languages?
People have suggested this option to me more than once, and it takes tremendous effort to brush off my suspicion that they are laughing at me, since my career aspirations come with no clear trajectory to financial stability, and therefore seem naive and idealistic.
I chose Global Studies because of two main reasons: 1) since high school, when I began reading international news, I developed a passion to expand my worldview and understand as many different cultural, social, and ideological perspectives as possible and 2) I was required to choose something in the humanities for my degree program, BXA.
Why did you choose an interdisciplinary degree (BXA), instead of focusing on music or double-majoring?
BXA was a surprise option that Carnegie Mellon offered me when I received my admission packet as a prospective music student. Even though I hadn’t applied to the program (not knowing it existed), my admission packet included a short letter introducing BXA as an option for students in the arts who were interested in pursuing something else, too.
Even while applying to music schools, I had been on the fence about a career solely in classical music, because unlike many of my colleagues, the obsession with perfection drained me rather than sustained me. So I applied not only to music but also to humanities programs, thinking I could double-major.
However, BXA would allow me to study two fields in one degree, instead of completing two separate degrees. Not realizing my decision was binding, I clicked the “BXA” bubble instead of “BFA” when I enrolled at CMU (a BFA is CMU’s equivalent of a Bachelor’s of Music).
Even though I’ve often felt stretched between fields, I would not have wanted anything else from my undergraduate experience. BXA gave me a flexibility unimaginable to most of my peers. I took pretty much whatever classes I wanted, so I crammed my semesters with classes on sociolinguistics, cultural studies, Spanish, Latin American history and culture, transnational feminisms, Southeast Asian studies, and creative writing.
Why creative writing?
Creative writing was that one thing I always did outside of my studies, the thing that allowed me to breathe when I felt overwhelmed by the perfectionism of classical music performance and the rigorous intellectualism of my humanities classes.
Creative writing is the space where my intellectual interest in different perspectives (cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, linguistic, socioeconomic) can merge with my love for expression.
I call myself a writer as well as a musician because in college, I discovered that being a musician only embraces part of who I am. By devoting time and energy to writing as well as music, I can be myself fully as an artist.
As to what I’m doing with my degree, my hope is that the Projects page illustrates the beginnings of a career as an artist who uses her exposure to diverse perspectives to work with communities across differences; to create art that celebrates these groups and the unique voices within them.