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  • Writer's pictureMax Levowitz

My Page(s)

Two and a half years ago, I was scrolling on Facebook and I saw a status posted by a friend and former director of mine, Drew Zaremba. Drew went to The University of North Texas and graduated with his master’s in jazz composition (for more information on Drew, check out his website! He's an incredible writer, multi-instrumentalist, and an even better person). Part of that Facebook post reads as follows:

"Real talk: Full disclosure - one reason I have problems with Facebook is the hyper-reality it makes...we only post our triumphs and successes, our engagements and relationships, not our failures, doubts, divorces, or separations, because we hate to appear weak or vulnerable. Unfortunately, this starts a cycle of comparison of ourselves to versions of other people which in reality don't exist. I realize that as I'm posting my own successes as an attempt to reach people for music and sharing my art, I'm portraying only one of my many sides”

He goes on to talk about the OTHER side of his career in music; the part of him that is worried about this, that, and the other thing as it relates to his career in music. Drew making this post was, and still is, extremely inspiring to me, and is part of the reason I finally decided to finish my website and create a Facebook and Instagram page dedicated to myself as a Musician.

One of the reasons I didn’t finish and publish this website years ago was simply because I was too self-conscious about my own career and where I was at the time. When my website was first created, I had only played a handful of top 40 band gigs in the DFW area and hadn’t had one in quite some time. I felt like I wasn’t good or successful enough to have a website or an Instagram page. Even on my personal page, I only would post videos of me doing something amazing on the trumpet, not the miscellaneous etude I was working on that week (or month). I was afraid that people would see something on my page and think “oh man, that kid sounds like crap, what in the world is he doing. He should quit and go find something else” or even worse “THIS is the kid that was referred to us? Yeah, no thanks.” In the world in which we live, with social media being as big as it is, it can become all about creating a perfect image of yourself in order to get the attention in your given field (music, business, art, whatever). Nobody wants to be doing research on their doctor and see a Facebook post from two weeks ago about losing a patient around your age in surgery, when that is your surgeon (think about that for a second. What would your reaction be if you were having heart surgery, and you found a post by your doctor from two weeks ago about how they lost a patient in the same surgery about the same age as you? You’d freak out and probably cancel the surgery, or at least try to find another doctor, right?! This isn’t exactly a perfect comparison, but the point I’m trying to make is that NOBODY wants to shine a light on their failures).

Speaking of shining a light on failures, professional athletes (I promise to wrap this post up with a bow soon, I just want to keep talking about this). I am a die-hard fan of the New York Yankees and have been for my entire life. I remember my first ever Yankee game, I remember getting to tour the old and new Yankee Stadiums within a year of each other (have pictures from 2009 and 2010 from the stadium tours), getting to see my first game in each stadium, meeting players, old timers’ day, etc. And I remember the first significant autograph I ever got from a Yankee, someone who developed into one of my favorite players; Alex Rodriguez. It was the fall of 2005, I had just moved from Texas to Virginia and the Yankees were in town playing the Orioles. My dad and I went to a game at Camden Yards, and I don’t remember how, but somehow, we found out what hotel the players stayed in, so after the game we went over there. As we were getting there, Alex was walking in the back. There must have been 10 or 15 people there trying to get his autograph and he was shaking them off, but then my dad said, “C’mon man it’s my kids first game!” So, he stopped, turned around, and pointed at me, and then proceeded to sign my Rodriguez jersey, which I still have framed hanging on my wall. When he was reinstated after his yearlong suspension of the 2014 season, I purchased a FORG1V3 shirt from Bald Vinny (the man behind the Yankee Stadium bleacher creatures for so many years). I hated what he did off the field, but I loved him as a player and I never had any bad experiences with him off the field (I met him a few times including that 2005 story). When Alex was basically pushed out of the Yankee lineup in 2016, and then essentially forced into retirement before the season was over, I was NOT happy. I had strong feelings about it the entire summer, I felt that the reason he was struggling was because he wasn’t getting a chance to hit but wasn’t getting the chance because he was struggling. His final week in the big leagues he wasn’t getting a lot of playing time (even though the year before, Derek Jeter was playing regularly, and he was hurting the team defensively at his age) with only 243 plate appearances in 65 games when he retired on August 12, and only playing the field for one third of an inning in those 65 games (in his final game). Alex is one of the best players to ever play the game, and one of the best hitters of a generation, yet he will not end up in Cooperstown because he did some dumb stuff off the field (my stance on steroid guys in the HoF has changed over the years but this isn’t a sports blog).

Why do I bring this up and talk about Alex Rodriguez? Because he is best known for, and will always have hanging over his head, the dumbest decision he ever made. Yes, he should be punished for it (as he was), but should it follow him for the rest of his life? Consider this: we've all made mistakes, some pretty huge. We all have regrets. Would you like to have your biggest regret and mistake follow you the rest of your life? I know I don't.

Social media does a great job of creating an image of yourself that you get to control. You post what you want to post, and nobody sees what really goes on in your life. You Facebook friends don’t see when you fail a test, they only see when you post that you got an A on that research paper. Everyone sees that you got a 4.0 that semester, but nobody sees the B’s or 91’s along the way. I’m not saying post every single failure along with every success, but also do not forget that your friend from high school who’s doing so well in college and in the workforce is creating one image of themselves on their social media.

My page and Instagram feed will contain pictures and posts about gigs and good things happening, but more importantly I think, it'll be things of me working. I'm not a perfect trumpet player, I'm not a perfect musician. Hell, I'm not a perfect person. Nobody is, and anybody who wants to convince you they are is insecure in their own skin. Musicians only post videos of them playing music perfectly, or a transcription they’ve mastered. Why not post a video of something you just started learning, but have been working on for a few hours? It sounds better now than it did three hours ago, but it doesn’t sound as good as it will in two days, or a week. THAT is, in part, what my Instagram and Facebook feeds will contain. I’m no longer afraid of the fact that it is taking me longer to graduate college than “normal,” and that at the level of player X. I’m a better trumpet player and musician than I was last month, and I’ll be a better musician and trumpet player in a month from now (as long as I don’t stop playing for a month).

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