Maria Zepeda

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Maria Zepeda. I am the president of the Montana Area Music Association, classical guitar and vocal teacher, a songwriter, musician, entrepreneur and advocate of the arts.

What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, speak up for what you believe in, and never make yourself small for anyone.

What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.

Getting fired from the Mustard Seed for missing a shift. It brought me back to pursuing music.

Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?

In 10 years the music industry in Montana will have continued to grow. Missoula is expanding rapidly with the amount of outside money coming in. There will be more people, more venues, more incoming artists, and more opportunities to share an artists craft.

As for MAMA, we will be an established non-profit with chapters across MT that serve, support, educate and connect musicians, artists, collaborators. We will be able to pay our staff, the ability to create paying opportunities for the musicians, artists, collaborators of MT, as well as enough funding to invest back into the communities across MT.

We will work to create an inclusive network that builds community around the arts, sustaining and protecting the livelihood and unique qualities of each chapter, as the music industry continues to grow in MT.

What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Pay artists less.

In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?

Too many obligations. Recognizing when my plate is full and not taking on other endeavors.

What is the one book you recommend most often and why?

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. They are rules everyone should live their life by.
Don’t take anything personally.
Be impeccable with your word.
Don’t make assumptions.
Always do your best.

What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?

Never limit yourself. Look people in the eye, really listen, and observe your surroundings always. Be unabashedly you and go after your dreams. Help people whenever you can. Trust your intuition.

Advice to ignore: Anything that steers you away from what you feel is right and that money buys you happiness.

What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?

“In three words, I can sum up everything about life: It goes on.” -Robert Frost