Interview with Stefanie Schmitz 09/12/2020
A multi-instrumentalist, artist, and teacher in San Diego, Stefanie has made it her mission to use music to foster empowerment, expression, and connection in children and adults. She plays the clarinet, saxophone, and percussion and has a passion for the music and culture of Brazil. Stefanie performs with her bands Cajuina (Brazilian forró), Choro Sotaque (Brazilian choro), and Manouche Five (French type of jazz). Stefanie teaches private and online lessons at La Jolla Music and Kalabash as well as Brazilian rhythm in schools through the Center for World Music and Arts for Learning. She also coordinates school assemblies and distance learning as the Schools Program Coordinator for the Center for World Music.
What projects are you currently working on?
During the pandemic, I have been performing a song every day at 2pm via Facebook live. I just completed day 139 [this was on September 12th]! I’m also presenting a monthly live streaming solo concert on YouTube from my living room studio where I travel the world via green screen accompanied by special guest musicians. I’m also producing a series of virtual distance learning lessons with teaching artists from the Center for World Music called Living Room Learning: World Music & Dance.
How has this pandemic affected or shifted your practice/changed your projects?
I felt like the rug was pulled from under me when all of my performing and teaching gigs were cancelled, but I decided to jump at the chance to connect with listeners virtually and learn new skills in streaming and video production. Since then, I’ve hosted zoom dance parties featuring my Brazilian band, taught online lessons, held virtual student recitals, performed at online showcases, and upped my video production game. I finally got my first in-person gig, playing solo sax for a private dinner date on the beach! I’m grateful to have some income and to have a break from lugging my gear all over town.
What has your journey been like as an artist or creative person?
I’ve been a performer since I put on living room shows for my family at the age of five. I played clarinet in elementary school band, led the high school marching band, and started my own ska band in college. At UCSD, it wasn’t until I had completed (“just for fun”) nearly all the required music classes that I realized it was what I should have been majoring in all along. So I stayed an extra year and added a music performance major. Then after living in a house of musicians while working a day job, I saw what being a freelance musician could look like and I quit my job. Following my passion for Brazilian music, I then spent six months traveling and studying around Brazil, and returned home to build a new full-time career as a performer and teacher. It has been an adventure!
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming, or rising artists/creatives?
Just because there are artists out there who are more accomplished or skilled than you doesn’t mean that the world doesn’t need your art. What you have to offer is unique and needed (especially right now!). You never know who you may reach, inspire, or heal in your community. If you touch one person with your story or song or painting, you have already made a difference.
Also, get over your need for perfection. Oh yeah, and charge what you’re worth!
Learn more about Stefanie: