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An existential dilemma

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Alvaro Martín Gómez A., Jun 20, 2005.


  1. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Hi everybody.

    This thread is about something that I've been thinking for a long time and I don't know what to do about it. Hope you friendly talkbassers give me an honest opinion. Here's the scenario:

    The city in which I live isn't a good place for music as a profession. Music isn't a part of life here. The only musical shows that really pack venues here are about styles that I really hate, most noticeable the one called vallenato. In spite of that, I was really lucky because after I graduated from the university, I was asked to work there as a teacher, and then the other university that offers a music program also called me. So right now I work as a teacher in two universities. Besides, I'm the musical director of the tropical music band in which I play, I also play double bass in the only symphonic orchestra and in general, I'm very recognized in my town among musicians. The thing is that I live in good conditions, but that's not because I'm well paid, but because of my current workload. I say I'm lucky because the unemployment rate here is very high and most of my classmates, for instance, are in a very difficult situation, which fortunately isn't my case.

    But I feel I'm done here. I mean, without being unrespectful, to me is hard to grow more as a musician in this city. In fact, many musicians here see me as a super star, a big master, but I'm not. The actual situation is that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. The musical knowledge that universities give here is what a serious high school gives in Europe or North America. I've heard amateur and teenagers' bands from those places which sound a million times better than so-called "professionals" here. That's why I think so many times of going to another place, but I don't think of my country. I'd like to try the U.S.A. because I know that I can learn so many things there and if I'm lucky, have even better conditions than here. But luck is the name of the dilemma. I'm not expecting (and it would be absurd) to get the same recognition I have here from the first day, but I don't want to starve either. The best way to try would be with an scholarship, at least to see how things are, but I can't aspire to one because of my age, as far as I've seen. If I decide to go abroad, it would be at my own risk. So that's my point: On one side, I'm in my hometown which is a nice place to live (you can see some pictures here), no known relatives in the States, feel scared about moving, I have a decent job, good reputation and lots of things which I wouldn't like to lose. Besides, I know that one of the secrets of success is creativity and I'm not a creative person. On the other hand, my city may be a nice place to live but it's not exactly the land of the opportunities, I'm not married, I have no kids, I have a decent English language level, average bass skills, can read and transcribe music, perfect pitch, I'm a computer power user, I like to teach (and I think I'm good at teaching youngsters/adults - not children) but I want to play in a really good band in which I feel like the less knowledgeable member (and earn better money than now, of course)... I think you understand my situation.

    Of course I know that getting an american visa is almost impossible for colombian people right now, but that's another story. Solving that problem is the next step after taking the decision. Anyway (and please excuse my ignorance) I don't know how the average american feels about a third worlder trying to "make it" in his/her country, but I hope that what I'm exposing here won't be seen as wishing to occupy the space of a native american. I also know that it's my sole decision and nobody can tell me what's the best for me. Again, I'm just looking for sincere opinions.

    This is a very personal stuff and maybe some of you won't find it interesting, but anyway thank you for taking some time to read this.
     
  2. Kaboom

    Kaboom

    Jun 13, 2005
    Que pasa man! I'm Spanish but i'll type my post in english for the sake of the forum's "stability". It seems to me that you are not REALLY happy back in bucaramanga, and if you're itching to leave now, you're probably always gonna be itching to live. If you have enough savings, you can just get the hell outta there and try your luck, and if it doesn't work out, just come back and be acclaimed as the returning hero. If you are the best there is in town, you'll probably get back everything you are leaving behind.
    the story changes of course depending on whether you are 35 or 65.
    have u mentioned it to the people there? what do they think?
    cheers!
     
  3. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Maybe you could look for a teaching gig in North America. If you were being seriously considered for the teaching gig maybe you could have the North American university try to help get you a visa. Maybe the NA uni could work with the schools you teach at now to get you up north.

    By North America I mean US & Canada. You might actually have better luck emigrating to Canada at this point in time.

    I personally don't feel you would be 'cheating' someone out of a job. But I'm not looking for music teacher employment either so we're not in direct competition. :)
     
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Essentially your dilemma - is the "Big Fish little Pond/Little Fish Big Pond" one, that is quite common - I think it has been discussed before on the DB side - by people like Ed Fuqua and others - so, do you stay where you grew up, or move to New York - which can be very intimidating for Jazz players.

    Maybe you should copy your post over to the DB side as well....?
     
  5. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Alvaro -

    You shouldn't fear following your dream, you should fear NOT following it.

    Think, which is worse: trying to realize it, giving it all you have, and not having it work out; or, not trying at all and spending the rest of your life wondering "what if I'd..."???

    I followed a dream, and got fairly far, before realizing that it had cost me more than I was willing to pay (I lost my wife, whom I truly loved more than anything, because of it). I'm not bitter or angry, just sad sometimes. However, I went and found another dream, and am now living that one. It is very different from the first, but no less satisfying - maybe more satisfying.

    I don't regret following the first dream, and didn't let it's "failure" me from finding and following the second one.

    Moral of my story (I hope!): Follow your dreams, if it doesn't work out, there will always be another dream to follow. Failure is to not a matter of a dream not coming true, it is failing to even try.

    Good luck to you, whatever you decide to do! :)
     
  6. I think you'll find that many Americans just want you to follow the proper channels for immigration. Once that is done, every job is fair game, in my opinion.

    Mike
     
  7. +1

    You might find some a$$holes in america who dont think like this, but you will find idiots anywhere you go.
     
  8. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    Considering that's how the USA became the USA, no one should say boo as long as you do everything legally.

    As for the Native Americans, you don't have much to worry about. Our policies and prejudices killed most of them off...
     
  9. Hello Alvaro,
    I am Wilser Ramirez. Although I went through the same thing as you about a year ago, the scenario was different because I am not a music professional. Although I am very well studied and have 15 years experience, I make a living as an IT professional.

    I am originally from the Dominican Republic. The situation there was really bad at the time. My wife and I had managed to buy a condo about 4 years before (when the economy was relatively stable), but then even with both of us working, it was not enough. So we decided to take the plunge and I moved to the US. I have the advantage of being a US citizen, which I got from my mother who lived here for some years. So, getting here was not a problem. I got a great job just 3 weeks after getting here. I submitted all the immigration papers for my wife and my oldest daughters, the whole process took a year and they'll be here next month. It is very hard, but we kept going with our goal always in sight.

    The US can be a very intimidating place, specially when you come from a relatively disorganized 3rd world country. Things here work very differently than they do in our hispanic countries. But I like the life here much better.

    It'll probably be very hard to get the same level of recognition you get in your country, because there is a lot of competition here. But the american dream can always be achieved if you are hard working, patient, responsible and honest.

    I can't say that I've felt 'rejected' or anything like that. If anything, I get a lot more '???' expressions when people see my face because I look very young for my age. I went to get a car loan about 2 weeks ago, and the financial manager looked at me like "*** is this kid trying to buy a $30k car for?!?!?" (I'm 30 and people still look at me like I'm 18). But people here are more reserved. We are very used to the warmth people show in hispanic countries. Here, most people are very kept to themselves.

    Oh, and about some people thinking that you're occupying 'jobs for americans'. I know some people might disagree with me, but what I have found is that there is labor shortage, at least where I live. I get at least 2 or 3 calls every week from employers that see my profile in monster.com or whatever and they want to interview me.

    Here was my thinking when I left:
    I've always been considered an asset on every company for which I worked. When leaving each and everyone of them expressed regret that I would not reconsider staying and always told me the doors were open for me. So we sold our apartment, paid off the mortgage and exchanged whatever we had left (plus some cash from selling all our furniture, cars, and stuff). I was to spend at most 4 months looking for a job and if nothing worked, I was to come back and we would start from scratch. It was a big risk, but thank God everything has worked out great.

    Bottom line is, it's very hard to starve in the US if you're good and dedicated to what you do. Anyway, I hope my story will inspire you to take the plunge. YIKES! I just realized how long my post is! I'm done, now.
     
  10. DanGouge

    DanGouge

    May 25, 2000
    Canada!
    I'd say the first thing is to do your homework on moving to the US (or Canada). Both countries have a great diversity of places for you to settle in terms of musical culture, climate, job opportunities and all that. So figure out where you want to live, because New York City would be a very different kind of place from, say, Seattle. You might want to see if there are good potential employment opportunities at universities or even at a decent arts-oriented high school in the area where you want to settle. Doing your homework on these sort of things won't guarantee anything, but at least you'll go in with your eyes wide open and know what to expect.
     
  11. Tsal

    Tsal

    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    +1

    Sometimes it might seem difficult to follow your dream, but more people regret after they choose not to.
     
  12. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Thanks for your input, folks. Keep it coming! In reply to Kaboom's question, I've mentioned my situation to a few friends and, in a few words, the don't seem to want me to go. They say that it would be great if I was unemployed, but I have everything I need here, so why put it at risk? (Their point of view. Not necessarily mine)

    Bruce: Thank you for your suggestion. I'll try that later since I'm not "familiar" with people at the DB side.

    :)
     
  13. SnoMan

    SnoMan Words Words Words Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2001
    Charleston, WV
    In my opinion, if you're not happy with your situation and have the ability to change it....you should.

    That is much easier to say than do, of course.

    If you make the decision to leave what has been home to you all your life, take as a great adventure. Relish every moment of your journey....even if you should fail (I would highly doubt that to happen though as long as you plan your way fairly well), you will still have, as Gard said, that ability to say you tried and did your best.
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
  15. UnsungZeros

    UnsungZeros The only winning move is not to play.

    This country is made of immigrants. Everyone here has immigrant ancestry (even the native americans as they came across the Bering land bridge). I welcome anyone who wants to come here, provided that they take the proper steps to immigrate. I believe that most Americans feel the same way. You might encounter a couple of crazies that are completely anti-immigrant, but they are just uneducated fools that you will have to learn to ignore. My mother immigrated to the US from Ecuador when she was a teenager. She tells me that she most definitely had a hard time adjusting at first (especially because she didn't know English, but you seem to have rather good English skills), but she's glad she came. You will experience a culture shock when you come, but you'll learn to adapt.
     
  16. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Extremely interesting, Ed. I'll spend quite a long time reading and re-reading that post in detail. Thank you!
     
  17. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Some try, but they get declined constantly. Having dated a Russian girl for the past two years that is here on a student visa, I know a LITTLE bit about it. Unless you can get amnesty by proving you are somehow threatened in your country, or get a student visa, it's tough. Unless of course we have bombed the hell out of your nation. Then we'll let you in.

    :bag:

    I would try talking to an immigration lawyer about this. My ex-girlfriend has been keeping in contact with the lawyer that has helped her. She's going to take another stab at applying for a greencard. She's already been here for 4.5 years.

    Bottom line is you need to know what your options are to increase the chances of your success. Good luck!
     
  18. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Wilser said that the US can be intimidating, and that may be true, but here's the fact: The opportunities here far surpass those where you are. If you are the kind of person who can recognize opportunity and seize it, this is the place for you. Ask a few of those Vietnamese people who came here in boats, couldn't speak the language, and now own large sections of major cities.

    I don't think the fact that you are from South America will be detrimental to you. In the arts, foreign influences are often welcomed and nurtured. You seem to be a thoughtful person with a good personality (to the extent that I can discern from your 1s and 0s). Friendliness and a strong desire to do well and to make a few other people (bosses) look good will take you a long way. There is a disastrous shortage of positive-minded people here, and you can just leave the nattering nabobs of negativism blowing in the weeds.

    So get your papers and come on up!
     
  19. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Thank you for your words, Munjibunga. One of the universities I work with has an international relations office and I asked for an appointment with the director. I'll tell her what I want to do and hope she can help me.
     
  20. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego