I spent a long time trying to deny the inevitability of becoming a full time musician. I never recognized this denial to be rooted in a place of fear, but instead, a conscious effort to heed the warnings of those closest to me. At a young age I was already fully aware of the incredibly high stakes and how small the likelihood of things turning out well for me in the music business would be. My mom used to plead with me to audition for American Idol. “Just do it and get it over with” she would say. A plea to which i usually always responded with a confident and highly cynical, “that’s not how I’m going to get this done”. Even then, I was completely aware that, as a female in the arts, I would run the risk of people thinking I had opportunities handed to me simply because I am a female, not because I earned it. I also knew that the artistic journey I would embark on would be grueling, patchy, unforgiving and consistently fluctuating.
A heavy foundation in the performing arts led me to study theater in college, only to spit me back into the real world as a musician with an onslaught of “making it in the business” training in the wrong field. I left school concentrating on sound design for theater and film, and realized I would have to start back at square one. I fell into djing, quickly after, seeing the lucrative return faster in that vein of the music world than any of the ones I had spent so much time studying. Djing threw me into an arena of male peers who had no tolerance for me being another competitor in the “who’s the best” race. I realized that me being a female in this industry would not only require me to work twice as hard as any male in the industry, but would also require me to know more about the music than any of the dj’s I was surrounded by, simply because anything less would easily land me in the “she’s just getting the attention because she’s a girl, not because she talented” bracket. It also became very apparent that my idea of myself as a dj had to change completely, because my competitors seemed to be going about this as if it were just an excuse to party, and I, by proximity, must be there to party as well. Therefore I couldn’t consider myself a dj in this world, but a musician through and through. This pushed me back into the world of theater (musical theater to be exact) to gain much needed sound engineering chops. Engineering, out of all the facets of music and sound, has, by far, the least percentage of women involved. The last statistic I read was a whopping 4% of the audio engineers employed today are women. I’ve learned that half the battle of being a female in this world is a simple matter of overcoming common assumptions. You would think that the chips would not be automatically stacked against you when it comes to people’s opinions of your hard work. There are still days where I can feel people in my field questioning my talent or wherewithal for the job at hand because of my gender. But, at the end of the day, I’m thankful to be reminded that this journey is my choice, and therefore, worth it. My artist statement not a mission statement. It’s just a reminder and respectful admonition to all the girls fighting the good fight in the arts. It is simply to keep pushing through the artistic process. I think most artists need a daily reminder of this key point. This is my reminder to every artist that, at the end of the day, work is work. Doing what you love is hard work, 100% business, and rarely forgiving. I wasted so much time early on waiting for the muse to descend upon me and give me brilliant ideas to undergird my talent. But now I know the best ideas will only come through the process of actually pushing through the process. Showing up to work, managing your finances correctly, getting sleep are all included in the artistic process. I think we artists like to frame our idea of the “process” in an esoteric, overly existential frame, so it’s easy to keep from engaging with our art on a daily, tangible, often tedious or even menial basis. Every day I learn something as a sound designer I can apply to the artistic process in mixing music. Every day I learn something as a dj that applies to sound engineering and design. The odd and sometimes out of the blue places the journey to your goal takes you are absolutely integral to your artistic process as a whole. Remember to acknowledge not only the opportunities to grow as an artist in size, but to acknowledge the opportunities to grow as an artist in integrity.
Riverside Center For The Performing Arts Page
Bethany studied theater with a concentration in sound design for theater and film at George Mason University. She was recently appointed Head of the Sound Department at The Riverside Center For The Performing Arts in her hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is also the Lead Sound Designer and Lead Sound Engineer for the RCPA. She is currently mixing audio for “The Music Of Andrew Lloyd Webber”, and is in pre-production for “Oklahoma”, both featured at RCPA. Bethany is a well known DJ in the Fredericksburg, Richmond, DC and Baltimore areas and has played all over the east coast, as well as Austin, TX and Los Angeles, CA.