—by Natalie Salzman
Plan B for your career might just hold the fairytale ending.Double-park on 141st, run inside to wheel my harp out, hope the local street gang will take pity on me and help me with the stairs, and pray to God it’s not raining. This was my weekly, sometimes daily, routine this summer while performing in New York City. After graduation last May from Indiana University, I was ecstatic to be out in the real world, earning my keep and making it as a musician. I imagined I’d live like Rodolfo and Mimi in a tiny roof-top apartment, overlooking the city scene as we huddled by the furnace, arguing over philosophy, art, and poetry. Oh, how romantic and Bohemian it would all be, assuming tuberculosis was no longer an imminent threat. Well, that fantasy was short-lived.
One day early in that first summer in the real world, I burst into tears, realizing that it was far more difficult than I thought to make a career, let alone support myself, with the harp. My fears were exacerbated by a tendonitis injury several months earlier, which prevented me indefinitely from playing classical music. Since medical school seemed too much of a hassle, and I wasn’t keen on moving back home with my parents and working at the DMV, I decided I better find a way to make it work with this harp degree.