Being a Juilliard student is more of an attitude than just an academic credential.
We are almost at the end of the semester, and it seems like a good time to talk about how my feelings toward Juilliard have changed over the course of my first year of undergrad here. I come from a city in Mexico called Puebla, which is a very culturally active place of Mexico as we have several art festivals throughout the year. However, the study and practice of classical music is not as developed as in other cities of Mexico as in the capital or Monterrey for example, although the overall level is getting higher. This being said, getting accepted into Juilliard was more of an ideal. It was definitely something to dream about and to work toward but in the back of everyone’s mind, my going from Puebla to the most famous conservatory in the world was seen as kind of a wild dream, especially since I had no musical connections to anyone even outside of Puebla. I did, however, make it here after a lot of effort and support from my family, teachers, and colleagues—and what I have learned the most about here has been perspective.
I was of course expecting to meet extraordinary musicians and virtuosos who at a young age would have already accomplished a lot, and I did for sure. But more important is that everyone has a unique story of how they got here and what they plan to do. I thought that the majority of students would be a bit more like me actually, whose had strived to come here and furthering their careers would be a big part of their identify but I found that to some, Juilliard was just one of their options, and that some people are much more interested in the global community of music making and not just their own accomplishments. This was a very humbling realization that has definitely shaped my character and goals—I thought I was going to come here to compete but it turned out that I came here to collaborate. I also thought that most of my colleagues would be interested in becoming touring soloists and I am surprised to find that some of them are clearly more interested in different career paths such as chamber music, pedagogy, and collaboration, and they have been from a very young age.
But what I am the most surprised about is the quality of character that I have encountered behind these diamond windows of not only my classmates but of the faculty, staff, and administration. Everyone that the school employs is working very hard to give us the best experience of our young lives. They make sure that our taxes are in order, that our mental health is well, and that we are able to sing our intervals. There is a wonderful dedication to excellence by all of them out of a love for not only of good education but also out of sincere hope that we are able to fulfill our goals. They make sure that, if we ever need anything, we can be sure that we will find help and support from all around us.
People say that everyone you encounter is fighting their own battle, but the Juilliard version of this to me is that everyone I see is fulfilling their own goals which might be totally different from mine and even if they are the same, one must realize that their success will not make your accomplishments seem any smaller of less meaningful. We are a community and every one of us helps elevate the Juilliard name and spirit. I can’t wait for another year of work and discovery!