This story was originally published in the Fall 2010 issue of Harker Quarterly
Tara Chandra ’06 graduated from Columbia University in economics, political science and music performance in 2008. After spending a brief time in the financial field, she returned to her true passion, performing. She recently moved from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, where she is pursuing a career as a singer and songwriter.
Q: When you were at Harker, did you dream of doing what you do now?
A: Yes, I’ve never not dreamed of being a performer! I’m so proud and grateful to have participated in Harker’s Conservatory certificate program under Catherine Snider, Laura Lang-Ree and Chris Florio.
Q: What do you find most exciting about your career or current project?
A: The music and the performance trump everything. But these days, there is a huge do-it-yourself aspect to being a musician, and I really enjoy the entrepreneurial prowess required. I’ve also come to love the uncertainty and instability; the not knowing used to be frightening, but I’ve come to find it exciting.
Q: What personal traits make you successful at what you’re doing?
A: My impatience and my tendency not to trust that everything will work out for the best. Impatience and efficiency stem from the same place within me, the place that refuses to let me sit still or rely on others to help me move forward. Ambition, drive, efficiency and impatience all share the same roots.
Similarly, my belief that you make your own luck, and that nine out of 10 people will fail to deliver, has ensured that I am always working on several tasks at once. I don’t believe in being “discovered”; I don’t hope that I’ll be that rare case of overnight success. I try to work diligently and determinedly, and I always prepare a backup plan for when something doesn’t come through. It’s harder to get discouraged when you value your actions over attributes.
Q: What in your life took you the longest time to learn?
A: Patience and trusting everything will work out for the best. I’m a Type A personality in an industry plagued by flakiness and uncertainty. I’m often forced to wait on other people – the musicians accompanying me, DJs and record labels wading through piles of CDs before seeing my stuff, etc. I’ve had to learn to be grateful when things go well and to be calm when they don’t. I’ve had to learn the only things you can control in life are your attitude and your effort. Managing your expectations of yourself, others and life in general is definitely a lesson we are fated to learn over and over again!
Q: What’s on the top of your personal and professional “lists” right now?
A: There are so many musicians out there right now – the competition is fierce and the exposure opportunities are limited. I’m focusing on playing as many shows as possible right now, while reaching out to DJs, radio stations, magazines and music bloggers. Hopefully, I’ll get bigger and better bookings.
Q: Tell us something surprising about yourself.
A: I love investing! I started buying stocks as soon as I turned 18 and made enough to pay off my college loans and travel the world for four months after college.
Q: What advice do you have for current Harker students?
A: At Harker, I was part of a closeknit community of caring teachers and intelligent, passionate and diverse students. I was supported and encouraged by the faculty, challenged and inspired by my peers. This is a very rare thing and should definitely be appreciated. No matter where you go to college, find a community for yourself, and try to keep in touch with all your Harker friends! They’re some of the best people you’ll ever know.