We had the good fortune of connecting with Martin Bejerano and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Martin, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work/life balance has been one of the most important elements in influencing my choices in my career as a musician. It’s something that acts kind of like a pendulum, where I try to keep it in the middle most of the time, but sometimes it needs to swing a little more one way or the other. One example in my life of it swinging to the “career” side was when I was a few years out of grad school, and decided that it was paramount that I move to New York City from Miami to further my career, even though I was in a serious relationship and such a move would put it into jeopardy. However, I knew that, in the long run, it would negatively impact not only my career, but that relationship as well if I never gave it a shot in New York.
Luckily it all worked out for both the career and the relationship (married for 19 years!)…and an example of the pendulum swinging the other way occurred after about 7 years of living in New York City, where I decided leaving the city was the right thing for my family, as we were considering having children, and a career opportunity opened up for my wife back in Miami. After having children shortly after, we decided slowing down my (previously pretty aggressive) touring schedule was a necessity to make the family situation work, and to be more present and involved with my kids – and its the best choice I ever made. In order to facilitate that, I accepted a position heading the jazz piano studio at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami, which provided a stable income that would replace the lost income from less touring. Though its been very challenging and requires a LOT of juggling/balancing/tough choices, I’ve worked hard to strike a balance that allows me to keep doing what I love – playing and performing music – as well as be around and present for my family.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a jazz pianist, composer, and educator. I think I am most proud that I always strive to make the music I create personal, individual, and truly a reflection of myself and the things I love about music. Jazz music is an improvisational music, and I try 100% of the time to be truly dedicated to that when I play – meaning that my goal in improvising is to play in that moment, reacting to the musicians, sound, and overall vibes happening around me, and not to play it “safe”. I am also very proud of the wide variety of musicians and music I have been able to play and record with – jazz , including modern, “straight ahead”, Afro Cuban, Brazilian, Avant Garde, and other styles such as pop, rock, musical theatre, etc.
I think what has helped me in my career is something I try to convey to my students: you need 100% dedication to your instrument, but also need to be a good person – someone who is always prepared, is cool to be around, brings a good attitude to the bandstand, recording session, or wherever. Its something that I have seen with nearly all of the master musicians I have been fortunate enough to play with – being kind, generous,, emitting positive vibes, and always putting the music first above everything else.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Eat: Islas Canarias (Cuban)
El Exquisito (Cuban)
Il Gabbiano (Italian)
Bazaar (Spanish Fusion)
Bombay Darbar and Ghee (Indian)
Rusty Pelican (for the views!)
South Beach, south of 5th
Fairchild Tropical Gardens
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shout out to New World School of the Arts, and all my teachers and friends there, who provided me the support and environment to grow as a musician, and encouraged the idea of becoming a professional musician.