Travis Baird (BM '10) tells us about launching his new website for musicians, why he chose to attend UTA and what three things he'd bring with him if he were on an island.
Tell us what you’ve been up to lately.
In the last year, I’ve had the pleasure of presenting Musician’s Health workshops at the ASTA National Conference and the American Viola Society Festival at Oberlin. I finished my Doctor of Musical Arts degree in May (phew!). And over the summer I launched a project that I’ve been working on for a long time: my website for musicians, dynamicmusicteacher.com.
When did you decide that you wanted to become a professional musician?
I’m so thankful that my parents were supportive of my music education from a young age. As a kid, I played piano, sang in numerous choirs, and eventually picked up the viola. Perhaps surprisingly, I didn’t decide to pursue music as a profession until my senior year of high school. My orchestra director at the time, Michael Stringer, played a crucial role in that decision. I was so inspired by his leadership and the trust that he built with his ensembles.
But the seed that was planted in high school would not have blossomed without Cathy Forbes. During my undergraduate degree at UTA, she empowered me to develop my skills as a violist, as a musician, and as a leader.
While I was in college, I spent tons of time searching for ways to overcome performance anxiety and maintain a healthy lifestyle as a musician. After years of researching and experimenting, I realized that I could really help my musician colleagues by sharing what I had learned. My dream for this website is to empower musicians with the tools they need to be healthy, happy, and enjoy performing.
Why did you choose to attend UTA? Could you tell us a bit about your experience studying at UTA?
Choosing a music school can be surprisingly difficult. There are a lot of great options. For young musicians, one factor is most important: your relationship with your private teacher. I decided to attend UTA because I believed that Cathy Forbes was the right teacher for me and I’m so thankful I made that choice.
On top of having a great mentor in Cathy Forbes, I loved playing under the direction of Dr. Evans in UTA Symphony Orchestra. The music classes that I took with Dr. Burton, Dr. Hunt, and Dr. Chave prepared me extremely well for graduate study. I’m still in awe of how supportive the members of the string faculty at UTA are. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but the UTA Music Department is really special.
Is there performance or moment as a music major at UTA that stands out in your memory?
I will never forget my first big orchestral solo at UTA. We played Elgar’s Enigma Variations during Dr. Evans’ first year conducting UTASO and I was so excited to play the beautiful viola solos in that piece (hooray for Ysobel and Dorabella!). Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of playing that piece a few more times, but every time I play it I think back to my first time playing it at UTA.
I also loved playing chamber music with Conner Covington, Katie Richardson, Kat McDowell, and all the members of UTA’s Viola Ensemble: Bratsche con Brio.
What do you enjoy most about your career?
I love connecting with other musicians. Our community is so close and supportive that no matter where you go, you’ll meet awesome musicians with whom you share something in common.
Is there anything else you can tell us about yourself, your career, or the profession that would be interesting or helpful to others aspiring to enter and succeed in music?
My best advice for music students is this: trust your teacher, practice (a lot), listen to your body, and don’t forget to breathe.
Favorite TV show?
It’s a toss-up between Breaking Bad, The Wire, and House of Cards.
What’s your favorite place to travel?
Germany. The music culture there can’t be beat!
If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?
You saved the hardest question for last. It’d be tempting to bring my viola, but it would probably melt in the island sun and humidity…
I’d probably bring a Kindle full of books, a solar panel (to charge the Kindle), and one of my cats (for company and to help catch some food...although I’m not certain if any of my cats are capable of catching food…).