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  • stephenwadsack

We're Moving!!

My life partner, Casey, is THE most awesome person I know, for innumerable reasons. She is kind, selfless, determined, and knows how to have fun. Casey does all of this with grace, and an innate ability to make others feel comfortable. She has such a natural and unique way of showing hospitality to others. I consider it a great joy that Casey chose me to do life with, and I can only hope that she doesn't question that decision too often...

Recently, Casey navigated a months-long, highly competitive interview process, and ultimately accepted a dream position as Director of Trauma-Informed Practice with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. For those who might not know, BGCA is the national-level version of the organization she previously worked for here in Cincinnati over the past 8 years. Change is always a little jarring at first, but she's been in this new role for a little while now and absolutely loves the work that she gets to do.

You could say this professional move has been a long time in the making for Casey; she's too modest to say this about herself, but her work in trauma-informed spaces is highly regarded on a national level, to the point where she now travels frequently to speak on and train others in these practices. I am SO proud of her! I've been amazed by the effects that this work has on people from all types of backgrounds and stories. In my feeble attempts to understand trauma-informed work, it has profoundly changed the way I think about music and teaching, among many other things.

I was honored to be able to follow my wife and say "yes" to this new adventure, even if it meant leaving many things behind which are very important to me. In the past 8 years of marriage, Casey has sacrificed a great deal so that I can pursue a career in music. She didn't hesitate when I asked her to leave our families and follow me to Cincinnati, a city she had never lived in. While I was in grad school at CCM, we frequently joked about leaving Ohio as soon as possible ("two years max, then we're out of here!"). We have now come to love this city dearly, and many people in it.

Our mutual decision for Casey to accept the BGCA position put our Cincinnati future into question. It also meant that I needed to consider leaving a coveted position teaching and performing full-time in higher education: a goal I have worked toward for over half my lifetime. We agonized over many different scenarios, including long-distance relationships/commutes, spending weeks apart, and frequent flyer miles racking up between ATL and CVG...

I recognize that this scenario is not unique to us - AND, many individuals or couples are able to make things work that are similar to the arrangement I described above. My intention here is not to virtue-signal, or to criticize others. Ultimately, this type of arrangement just did not feel authentic to who we are, and the life that we aspire to live. Others might make it work beautifully for them, and the life they want.

Many musicians work extremely hard to earn the credentials and skills necessary for a full-time career in music. Far fewer achieve what they initially set out to do. We are told to go where the work is, and hang onto a full-time position at all costs... You sacrifice whatever is necessary: money, time, sleep, personal wellness, other hobbies or interests, and sometimes even relationships with friends or family. Your spouse follows you, so you can get a job. These are the things I observed throughout school, and as a young professional. Personally, I have found them to be very common beliefs within our profession.

Quitting a full-time job - without something else lined up - flies in the face of conventional wisdom in the fine and performing arts. Ultimately, I knew that letting go of my position at Wright State was the best decision for us: certainly not for the perceived trajectory of my career, but by every other metric. I wanted to support my partner, and live in the same city as her. I wanted my WSU students to have a teacher that would be present and fully invested. I didn't want my decision-making to be determined by where I had employment.

Yesterday, the Bailey School of Music at Kennesaw State University announced that I will be joining the faculty as their new Assistant Professor of Trumpet and Brass Area Coordinator. Like Casey, I participated in a highly competitive national search in order to win the position. Many of the other candidates were likely highly qualified, great people, and could have done an excellent job. I feel so fortunate to be offered this opportunity, and I know what a blessing it is for two people to receive jobs where they can do what they love (and be paid a fair wage) in the same city.

I share our story, because I hope that it's liberating for others who have been told that there's only one metric for success in this profession, or that success in your career must come at the cost of everything else. In my experience, this is a belief all too common in fine and performing arts fields. Our humanity informs our artistry. Success looks like staying true to yourself, your beliefs, and what's important to you, while also trusting that the work put into your craft will result in something grander than you could have imagined. There is no doubt in my mind that the events of these past few weeks have been providential.

I love the above photo because I think it perfectly represents the attitude that Casey and I have both tried to maintain throughout our time walking together: one of mutual, unfaltering support for each other's dreams, while holding onto the future loosely. We certainly don't always succeed in living that out, but it's been a pretty great adventure so far.

There are lots of people to thank, who have been there for us throughout this entire process. Specific to me, I'd like to acknowledge my friends Ashley, Dan, and Ryan who spent some long conversations with me that helped clarify these thoughts. Countless others have played a significant role in my journey, and I'm so grateful to each of them.

Thanks for reading this far, if you have!

With Excitement,


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