Academic Survival
April 4, 2023

6. Switching Paths: Finding Your True Passion with Musician Blake Leigh (w/Co-Host Kelly Daza)

6. Switching Paths: Finding Your True Passion with Musician Blake Leigh (w/Co-Host Kelly Daza)
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Switching Paths: Finding Your True Passion with Musician Blake Leigh

Learn what is worth your time... just focus on the things that truly matter and are most in line with your passions. - Blake Leigh

My special guest is Blake Leigh, here's his story:

From a young age, Blake Leigh discovered his love for music and embraced the art of playing the piano. As he grew older, he ventured into new territories, exploring the world of jazz composition and enrolling at Berklee College of Music. Blake's journey was not a straight path, as he initially pursued a degree in economics at Bentley University only to realize it wasn't his true passion. This revelation set him on a new course, taking him to Berklee College of Music to immerse himself in the world of jazz composition. As Blake delved into his studies, he came to understand the importance of authenticity in his music career, choosing projects that resonated with him and avoiding those that didn't. This approach allowed him to find his niche in the music world, helping others fine-tune their scores and rehearsal processes. Despite the challenges he faced, Blake's dedication to his craft may ultimately lead him to consider Manhattan School of Music for his future studies as he continues pursuing his passion.

In this episode, you will be able to: 1. Unleash your true potential by embracing passion and authenticity in your music career. 2. Maximize your chances of success at auditions through effective preparation and performance skills. 3. Achieve outstanding results in your music journey through disciplined time management and productivity habits. 4. Delve into the fascinating connection between music and mathematics that might surprise you.

Pursuit of Music

Finding one's true passion in life and dedicating themselves to it is crucial in experiencing genuine happiness and success. When it comes to choosing a career path, individuals should consider their interests and values in order to make the right decision. For aspiring musicians, understanding their passion for music and dedicating their time and efforts toward it can lead to a fulfilling and prosperous career. One should not solely choose a career for its perceived safety or popularity but find their true calling that brings genuine satisfaction. Blake Leigh's journey to becoming a jazz composer/ arranger serves as an inspirational example for those pursuing their passion in music. Initially studying accounting and business at Bentley University, Blake realized these subjects did not align with what he truly desired. He then enrolled in the Berklee College of Music where he was able to pursue his passion for jazz composition. Blake's experiences emphasize the importance of staying true to one's passion and pursuing a career that is genuinely fulfilling.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Apply to colleges that align with your interests and passions.
  2. Be willing to change paths if you realize your current path is not the right fit for you.
  3. Focus on what you genuinely enjoy doing and avoid saying yes to everything.
  4. Seek opportunities to help others with their music, such as proofreading scores or leading rehearsals.
  5. Prepare a song that showcases your unique talents and interests for auditions.
  6. Be authentic and true to yourself when auditioning and pursuing your passion.
  7. Network and create connections with other musicians and professionals in your desired field.
  8. Be open to learning about yourself and adapting your goals and aspirations throughout your college experience.

Timestamped summary of this episode:

00:00:05 - Introduction, Dr. Shandra McDonald introduces the podcast and the guest, Blake Leigh. She highlights the high dropout rates in college and her mission to improve these statistics.  She also teases that she will have a surprise co-host for this episode, musician Kelly Daza, who will assist by asking questions that only a fellow musician would consider asking.

00:02:52 - Transitioning from One School to Another, Blake explains that he started at Bentley University but realized that business and accounting were not his passion. He then applied and got accepted to Berklee College of Music.

00:07:19 - Major in Jazz Composition, Blake pursued jazz composition at Berklee, which involved learning how to write music using jazz theory and techniques and writing music for small and big bands.

00:11:08 - Auditioning for Berklee, Blake describes the audition process for Berklee College of Music.  He shares the excitement he felt when he got accepted.

00:12:22 - Pursuit of Music, Blake discusses his passion for music, which started when he was in fourth grade and saw his friend play the piano at an art gallery. He realized that he wanted to pursue music and has never looked back.

00:17:53 - Practice Rooms at Berklee, Blake talks about the practice rooms at Berklee, equipped with pianos, drum sets, and amps. The rooms have padded walls to muffle the sounds from the outside. Blake mentions the importance of efficient rehearsals where everyone knows their parts beforehand.

00:20:10 - Authenticity in Auditions, Blake advises auditioning students to play what they like and are good at, instead of trying to impress the judges with something they think they'll like. Being authentic is key.

00:22:30 - Efficient Work at Berklee, Blake highlights the importance of not procrastinating on projects, especially when writing a 10-20 minute piece for a large ensemble. Working on a project little by little allows for clarity and the opportunity to develop better ideas.

00:27:03 - Resources at Berklee Library, Blake talks about the extensive library at Berklee, complete with a listening room for CDs and walls of scores, sheet music, biographies, and magazines.

00:28:45 - Musical Development, Blake discusses his current focus on improving his playing skills and learning jazz tunes. He's also slowly working on a big band piece.

00:36:56 - Influential Jazz Musicians, Blake shares his love for jazz musicians such asThelonious Monk, Vince Geraldi, and Chet Baker, and how they have inspired him in his own music.

00:37:27 - Market for Jazz Composition, Guest/Co-host Kelly Daza asks about the market for jazz composition, and Blake shares that many jazz musicians are now producing their own music and releasing it independently, as well as creating music for advertisements and jingles.

00:43:28 - Music and Math, Blake, Kelly, and Shandra discuss the relationship between music and math, with Blake explaining how writing a big band chart is similar to doing math, and how understanding math can help with understanding music.

00:48:09 - Music as the Language of Math, Blake, Kelly, and Shandra delve deeper into the relationship between math and music, with Kelly sharing an anecdote about a student with perfect pitch who could identify chords based on their mathematical components.

00:50:55 - Blake's Aspirations, Shandra asks Blake about his dreams for the future, and Blake shares his hopes of writing for his own big band and more.

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Blake LeighProfile Photo

Blake Leigh

Composer/ Arranger

Blake is a recent Berklee graduate who majored in Jazz Composition. He started his college career pursuing business/economics at Bentley University in Waltham Massachusetts but learned that business was not where he wanted to go in life, so after a year in business school he transferred to study music in Boston. He is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the academic survival podcast and hopes his story can help others navigate the crazy experience that is freshman year of college.