10 Ways Music Prepared Me for a Career with Flowers
If you only know me as Morgan the florist, you’re about to learn A LOT! Hahaha. I began my adventure with music when I was ten years old and decided to join my school’s orchestra program. My instrument of choice was the violin and it didn’t take long for me to realize how much I LOVED it! Fast forward through years of playing with orchestras, performing with local bands and teaching lessons and I found myself wondering if it was time to explore other interests and continuing growing as an artist.
Long story short…after LOTS of practice and taking several courses on floral design and business, I did what no one (including myself) thought I would ever end up doing! In the Fall of 2017, I officially launched Wellspring Floral and haven’t looked back since. Opening a small business is probably the hardest and most fun thing I’ve done so far. I experienced a lot of ups and downs with music and that really helped to prepare me for what it would be like (especially in the beginning) to own my own business.
Although I don’t play music quite as often as before, I’m thankful for the lessons I learned while teaching and performing on a regular basis. Here are some of my favorite takeaways thus far:
1) “Every Expert Was Once a Beginner” (quote by Helen Hayes)
This has always been one of my favorite quotes and I would often mention it to my violin students during their lessons with me. So often, I would demonstrate a passage of music that they had been working on and they would tell me, “How do you make it look so easy?!” My answer was simple: time + LOTS of practice.
It’s not much different when it comes to practicing with flowers or anything else for that matter. If you are willing to put in the time and practice consistently, you will see results! This segues nicely into my next point…
2) Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make better
As a musician who studied the violin all the way through college, I would often find myself in the practice building hearing bits and pieces of what other people were working on. For some, it was easy to lock themselves in a practice room for hours and hours striving for complete perfection. But for me, I never found myself with that same mindset. I’m not saying I didn’t want to put in the practice time to improve my playing. But I am saying that practicing for the sole purpose of perfection is never what I was going for.
We, as humans, are not perfect by any means. So how could our art ever live up to a standard of complete perfection? It can’t. Whether I am practicing music or flowers, my goal is not perfection. My goal is simply to fine tune my skills and strive for the best work I can do.
3) Be patient
Patience is also my “word for the year.” I’ve learned patience on many levels throughout my professional life. Patience with myself when I was a young musician. Patience with others when I was teaching violin lessons. And most recently, patience as I grow my business. Nothing happens quickly. Sometimes, this has frustrated me and other times it has given me a great reality check. Patience all around is so important to work towards, especially as a creative! P.S. If you want to read more of my thoughts on patience, you can read that blog post here :)
4) Surround yourself with other people who are more experienced than you and learn everything you can from them
This is a BIG one and it was probably one of the more difficult lessons I’ve had to learn. I don’t say this to brag at all but I want to paint the picture for you. As a high school student, I was sitting first chair in my orchestra class, performing with another local orchestra, playing wedding gigs on the weekends with my string quartet and recording string parts for my friends’ bands. You could say it was a case of “big fish in a small pond.” When I got to college, I experienced quite a shock of suddenly becoming a “little fish in a big pond.” I was no longer on top and there were plenty of people around me who were way better than me when it came to music! At first, that was really hard to live with. But, I eventually figured out that the only way to improve was to surround myself with other people who I looked up to and try to learn as much as I could from them.
The same goes with flowers. In the beginning, I made a point to build relationships with other people around me in the same industry and similar industries to learn as much as I could from them. Maintaining those relationships has also been one of the best experiences! I told myself to not be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Creating a strong community is essential to growth! Speaking of communities, one of my favorite creative groups is the Austin chapter of The Rising Tide Society.
5) Always include something unexpected
This makes me think of Haydn’s “Surprise Symphony.” The background story is that this composer was growing tired of people coming to his concerts and falling asleep. So he wrote this piece to wake them up, so to speak. Just as the unexpected is important in music, I love carrying over this element into my work with flowers. Just when the arrangement or bouquet could be finished, I love adding in a little something unexpected! See if you can find that element in this photo ;)
6) Learn how to improvise and become really good at doing it too
Oh man, this is another good one! When I first began studying the violin, I was strictly reading music on a page. I really liked seeing everything layed out in front of me and when it came time to learn to improvise and just “make it up” on the fly…hah, that was an adventure, to say the least. Improvising in music has always kind of felt like speaking in a second language. I can do it much better now than when I first started but, it still can feel a little foreign to me sometimes.
With flowers, especially when it comes to delivering them on a wedding day, it is imperative for me to have a flexible mindset and be able to adapt and improvise if needed. I always bring along my toolbox filled with anything and everything I could possibly need! You’ll find a glue gun, zip ties, wire, tape, several pairs of clippers and more if you opened my toolbox. I always try to bring some extra flowers if I have them left over to account for anything breaking or wilting during transport or during set up. The summers here in Texas can be VERY hot and I always bring a bottle of “Crowning Glory” sealant spray to make sure the flowers are looking their best at the time of the wedding!
7) Always be learning
I learned from my own violin teachers that there is no point in life where you will have learned everything there is to learn about music. A famous cellist by the name of Pablo Casals once explained why he still continued to practice even when he was in his nineties. He said, “Because I think I’m making progress.” When I first heard that quote, I was a little stunned to be honest! Even in his old age, Pablo Casals still felt like he was learning and improving his skills.
I understand this even more so with flowers. There are so many varieties, colors, shapes, sizes and styles to experiment with. I don’t think it would be possible for someone to have worked with every kind of flower in one lifetime! One of my favorite florists to follow on social media has been working in the floral industry for around 40 years and she always says how much she is still learning. Talk about inspiration!
8) Break the rules (sometimes)
Music and flowers come with certain rules. But really, they should be seen more as guidelines instead of strict rules. These “rules” are set in place by music theory and in flowers, they are defined by the principles and elements of design. You could think of these “rules” as the science part of the art. I think the true art reveals itself in music and flowers when the artist isn’t afraid to take a chance and “break the rules” from time to time! I like to touch on these “rules” and how to break them in my floral workshop class. You can join me for an upcoming class by registering here!
9) It’s not about you
This is a tough one. We are automatically programmed to think about ourselves first. At least I feel that way. It’s not always easy to think about others before yourself. But when I truly make an effort to remember that whatever I’m doing is not actually about me, I always feel happier. Another favorite quote of mine by the artist Pablo Picasso says, “ The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Whether it is my music or my flowers, giving those away to other people is really what matters in the scheme of things.
10) If it doesn’t bring you and other people joy, don’t do it
My mission from the very beginning of Wellspring Floral was to spread joy to others through flowers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen how flowers have positively impacted others around me. Whether I am designing for a wedding or teaching other people about flowers in one of my workshops, or making a simple delivery to someone’s home or office, I always notice their big, bright smile when they receive flowers. That is why I do what I do and being able to create joy for myself and others through flowers is a wonderful privilege!
I could probably come up with a lot more but… this is getting lengthy so I think I’ll stop here. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts! I hope to meet you soon in one of my floral workshops or maybe even serve you as a future wedding client. For more information on how to sign up for a workshop, please see the links below:
Sending flower joy,
Morgan Elliott | Wellspring Floral