Consciously Choosing Music
Dr. Gillian Morrissey was recently named acting manager of the Centre for Social Enterprise. A graduate of the Master of Music program, she consciously chooses to keep music making as a cornerstone of her life.
I spoke with Gillian about how this new position has impacted her musical life.
Corrigan: How do you strike a balance between your musical life and your job with the Centre for Social Enterprise?
Morrissey: It is definitely a struggle because I love both areas of my work so very much! Music is who I am, down to my very core, without a doubt. I would never be able to leave it behind completely. However, having a "day job" means that I have stability to pick and choose which musical projects I take on, so the things I do choose are the ones I am most passionate about and interested in. Not having a lot of extra time has made me a more efficient practicer. I have to think through the process and be really specific about what I am doing. You wouldn't believe how fast you can learn a piece of music when your time is limited!
I'm really lucky in that both facets of my professional life are complementary, so I can move between them easily. I'm also very grateful that the Faculty of Business is incredibly supportive of my musical pursuits. We have many creative people in the FBA and they are great at cheering each other on.
I should add, if your day job isn't complementary to music, that's okay! And if you get a day job to make your musical endeavors possible, that isn't "selling out."
Corrigan: Was there a time when you had to make the conscious effort to not leave your music making behind?
Morrissey: It is so easy to finish the work day -- which for me is quite late as I work my day job at the CSE and then come home and teach flute and piano every evening -- and just want to relax on the couch (or go hang out with my horse!), but I have made decisions to consciously choose music. It often means I end up practicing late into the night to get it all done, but I still find ways to continue with projects and opportunities that are really meaningful. Music -- particularly performing, but also teaching, and as a vehicle for social change -- is so important to me. It helps me stay human and connected with my wonderful colleagues.
Corrigan: What are some things you learned in your music degrees that you carry with you into the business and academic worlds?
Morrissey: Music is SO neat. It gives you all these skills you don't realize will be helpful to you in other careers! In my first position at the Faculty of Business, I used my pedagogy training to help design unique, hands-on learning experiences for students in the MBA in Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship program. All of the professional presentation and performance skills we learn as musicians (i.e. how to carry yourself on stage, ways to manage nerves in stressful situations, thinking creatively to find solutions or come up with new ideas) are applicable no matter what kind of work you go in to.
I do think musicians need to acquire some business skills along the way. We are entrepreneurs by nature and need to know how to manage our careers. That's why I was beyond thrilled when the Joint Degree program, Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Business Administration was announced. Musicians can study business at the graduate level at Memorial as well! We would love to see more folks from the Arts joining the MBA in Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship program. This cutting edge program -- the first of its kind in Canada -- focuses on using business as a force for good.
Artists are going to be a key part of how society moves forward post-pandemic, how we "build back better" for better communities for all of us. Don't think because you have a music degree you are limited only to careers that say "music" in the title. Your skills and creativity are more relevant, more needed, now than ever before. Your place at the table is ready and waiting for you.