By Kenny Kerner
More and more, TAXI members are choosing the Indie route to success. Sure, it takes a little longer, but you can’t beat it for being able to work at your own pace and controlling your music and your destiny. This month’s profile is of Margaret Bernstein—musician, performer, composer, and instructor.
Your parents were also in the entertainment industry. Did that help you decide on a career in music?
MB: My parents had both been professional dancers and were very involved in the arts in general. I was exposed to the performing arts from an early age. Growing up outside of New York City, I had the opportunity to hear and see the very best in dance and music from an early age, so I’m sure that all had an influence on my music career as well as giving me a different perspective on life in general. However, I think the biggest factor for me deciding on a career in music was my sheer love of playing flute. It got to the point where I was playing so much (I practiced four to five hours a day during my junior and senior years of high school as well as playing in two youth orchestras and several chamber ensembles) that I couldn’t imagine doing anything else! !
Of all the musical instruments available to you, the one you chose was the flute. Why was that?
MB: I had begun piano and recorder at age six. I went to an elementary school where art and music was the focus and each class, beginning in fourth grade, had its own orchestra. Everyone was required to take up an orchestral musical instrument. I loved the sound of the flute, so I began flute lessons, in addition to my piano lessons, at age nine.
What were the circumstances surrounding your trip to India and how did that inspire your writings?
MB: India is a place that has been especially inspiring to me as a composer. I have been there four times on personal pilgrimages, and something about the inner peace one feels there, in spite of all the external chaos, was inspirational in the creation of several of my compositions on my Full Circle album including “Meherabad Morning,” “Rahuri Sunset,” and “Approaching Amartithi.” “Rahuri Sunset” was an unusual composition in that the entire piece came to me as I picked up my flute one evening just as the sun was setting and the birds were flying overhead. I just picked up my flute and started playing it. I felt that that piece was divinely inspired. “Meherabad Morning” was written in more of the manner in which I often write compositions in that I woke up every morning with the melody in my head and then wrote it down. I still do that. I have a musical manuscript notebook by my bed, and when I wake up, I write down whatever melody is in my head. My extensive music training, which included years of ear training, has enabled me to notate music without referring to a musical instrument. “Approaching Amarthithi” was a
composition that I wrote on the piano after returning from a visit to India depicting an event that occurs there every year. !
You’ve won awards, certificates, honors; written CDs, etc. What made you decide to join TAXI with all the success you achieved on your own? !
MB: First of all, I don’t believe that we are ever really doing anything completely on our own. I have been blessed to be hooked up with great professional networks since the beginning of my professional career. I believe that networking is extremely important in building a career in music. I had been hearing about TAXI for years, and knew its value as an important networking tool in the music community. I felt that it was time for me to join and that my music deserved to be heard.
How has TAXI helped your career?
MB: A career in music is a process. It does not end with one success, and nor does it need to be stagnant. I’m currently in the process of changing my focus from being a flutist and instrumental composer to a singer-songwriter. TAXI has helped me land publishing deals in the past, and now I am just beginning to use TAXI as a vehicle for being recognized and landing deals as an artist in this genre. I pay close attention to what different managers and record companies are looking for, as mentioned in the TAXI listings, and I write everything down. Then, I embrace as much of this information as possible when going into the recording studio. A music career is a balance between exercising ones creative side and ones practical, analytical, business side. That’s where TAXI comes in. I see TAXI as an important tool at this point in my career. I’m really looking forward to attending the Road Rally for my first time this November!
What are you up to next?
MB: I am so excited about my current endeavor, which includes completing the recording of Bricks in the Wall, my debut singer-songwriting album, which
is geared towards Domestic Violence Prevention and Education. I am also in the pre-production stages for a music video of the title song, which we will be shooting this fall. I have also started a not-for-profit company, Azalea Blossom Inc. (in addition to my already existing music business, Growing Azalea Music Productions), and am in the process of writing grants to help fund the video project. The video will be released as a DVD along with my CD next March. Fifteen percent of all sales will go toward an educational and prevention program of Domestic Violence (the SAFE program), which we are creating for middle school girls.