San Francisco - Greetings From The San Francisco Chapter Board: Minna Choi

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Minna Choi - Artistic Director

San Francisco Governor

How/When did you get your start?

I got my start as a studio intern at a studio called Unique Recording Studios in NYC. I started out as a recording intern but eventually began being called in by producers to demo out keyboard lines or track scratch vocals for songs. That eventually led to them asking me to write string, horn and vocal arrangements for tracks. I started out doing this all for free but eventually got the courage to begin charging for my work. That was about 7 years ago. 

What was the most interesting experience you’ve had while working?

Last year I was very fortunate to work closely with Narada Michael Walden and the Oakland East Bay Symphony on a new symphonic work featuring Carlos Santana as soloist. I’d never been entrusted before to orchestrate a full symphony before but Narada was so encouraging, that it gave me the confidence to finish the piece. As an added bonus, Narada even asked me to play in the piece as part of the “band” with himself on drums, Carlos on guitar, Frank Martin on keyboard and me on piano. It was completely surreal and I’ll never forget the experience!

What’s a piece of advice you’ve learned that you wish someone had shared with you?

That earning money by making music is a reality for many many people - and that it IS possible to become one of those people even if you are not Beyonce or Michael Jackson. 

What advice would you give to a young artist just starting out in the music business?

To find the joy in the little tasks because when you’re starting out, you’re only given little things to do. If you can find joy and pride in those things, you’ll be doing bigger things very soon. 

What are your favorite performance venues in San Francisco? 

Great American Music Hall (the staff is SOOOO nice) and Herbst Theater (it was the site of my first Magik*Magik Orchestra concert and thus extra special).

What are your “secrets to success?”

Being able to find meaning and fulfillment in a variety of jobs, not just the performing and recording parts. I enjoy creating budgets, I enjoy putting out water bottles for my players at rehearsals and putting their music into binders. I enjoy writing emails, writing checks, writing press releases and writing string arrangements. If people can see that you enjoy what you do, ALL parts of what you do, they will want to incorporate you into their process all the more. Coming off as jaded and bitter is the worst thing you can do as a newcomer.