I Had To Make A Choice: Get My Pilots License or Pursue an Orchestral Career – Mike Roylance | Ep. 89




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This week on the podcast, I’m excited to bring you a great interview with Mike Roylance, principal tubist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I first met Mike during the summer of 2010 as a Tanglewood fellow. I fondly remember listening to the orchestra play and being amazed by the sound I was hearing come out of his bell. Back then, I didn’t have much of a chance to get to know him personally, so I’m really glad I had this opportunity to reach out and have this conversation with him on the podcast. Here are a few takeaways from our conversation:

Have A Plan

One of the reasons I wanted to reach out to Mike was I wanted to pick his brain about his approach to audition preparation. He shared it with us when I was at Tanglewood (side note: it’s humbling and embarrassing to think I could have learned many of the lessons I’ve been learning lately if I would have simply paid more attention when he shared his approach with us, but that’s another story), and I remember it being very structured and organized. A few weeks ago, when I interviewed David Binder, he shared how he used Mike’s approach when he was successful in his auditions, and I was amazed to hear how similar it was to my own approach.

Long story short (too late..), his approach is about setting up good habits and slowly building in an effort to maintain those habits. Developing a plan can give you confidence in your audition preparation. You learn what works for you, what doesn’t, and you can constantly be getting better. You just have to find a place to start. Hopefully our discussion can help those of you interested in starting that journey.

From Disney To Boston

Mike is another example of a musician whose career in music didn’t go straight from school to an orchestral career. He was a freelancer, played with the Disney band in Orlando, packed up everything in his early 30’s to go study with Gene Pokorny in Chicago, and finally, he won his position with Boston.

Hearing stories like this is always encouraging for me. For those of you out there freelancing, doing jobs that aren’t exactly where you thought you would end up, or thinking about going back for more education: take heart. Looking at Mike’s story, it’s clear that amazing things are possible.

Do What You Love

In Mike’s interview, he spoke about a point in his life where he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He enjoyed music, but he also enjoyed being a pilot. Through the encouragement of his family, he decided to pursue music as his full time career. When I asked him how it feels to be where he is after making that decision, he spoke about his life being surreal to this day. It’s so encouraging to know Mike truly loves what he does.

I hope you enjoyed this podcast episode with Mike Roylance! If you wouldn’t mind leaving a rating and a review on iTunes, I’d really appreciate it. Don’t forget to share his episode on social media so others can find it and enjoy it themselves. Thanks so much for listening.

Stay strong, be kind to yourself, and never stop growing


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