Column: Art can inspire the world

Column: Art can inspire the world

I first started playing the violin at age seven. After going through periods of resentment and frustration, I’ve come to appreciate and embrace classical music for being part of my life from a very young age. Yet, I’ve also come to realize that the classical world is rather elitist—the amount of money required to purchase instrument and attend private lessons made it inaccessible for many.

It’s been my dream to bring the joy of classical music to underprivileged communities and have music be the catalyst for social change. There are many visionary musicians in the classical world who have done just that, the most recognized being the Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel and American cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Dudamel is the director of El Sistema, a music program known for dramatically changing the life trajectory of thousands of Venezuela’s most needy children, deeply benefitting youth from all backgrounds who participate.

Similarly, Yo-Yo Ma is a French-born Chinese American cellist who has dedicated his life to bridging cultures and communities through his unwavering passion for music. Although he is a child prodigy and started performing at the age of four and half, he never lost sight of people around the world who come from different musical traditions. He founded the Silk Road Ensemble, bringing together musicians from diverse countries, all of which are historically linked via the Silk Road.

Dudamel and Ma are just two examples of thousands of classical musicians who are making a social change by doing what they love. We typically associate social impact with the duty of governments and NGOs more than individuals, but that mindset needs to change. Every person is in a place to inspire and empower others by doing what they do in their everyday jobs—whether that’s playing music, teaching, delivering mail—as long as they have the desire and determination to.

While it’s true that money and fame can definitely accelerate success, solving a social problem takes initiative from all people. In the Boston area alone, there are many amazing organizations dedicated to bringing classical music to communities that wouldn’t have access to it otherwise such as Shelter Music Boston and Music for Food.

The success of those musician-led initiatives also debunks is the myth that musicians usually become unemployed upon graduation. We have all heard of instances of starving artists not being able to make their ends meet, but as author Jeff Goins argues in his latest book “Artists Don’t Starve,” the world’s most successful artists did not starve. In fact, they capitalized on the power of their creative strength.

This book is thought-provoking for me because admittedly, I’m a victim of the starving artist mindset a lot of times. I chose to study social sciences rather than going to music college because I would be more “employable.” Little did I realize that I’d fall into the “starving social scientist” mindset by envying how finance, computer science or engineering majors have an even brighter career prospect after college. I realized that this is an endless cycle of unnecessary comparisons that will only lead to sulking and losing sight of what I really wanted to achieve, which is to use my knowledge and skills to make the world a better place.

So whatever creative endeavor that you are pursuing, this is a call to start thinking your artistry as your gateway to create positive impacts in your own community.

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