For a while now I have had people asking me to write a bit about my background in music and my experiences. I also have had people ask me to talk about a trauma I was able to overcome and grow stronger from… So I thought I would share my musical journey.
Some of my favorite early childhood stories that my parents tell would have to be how, as a child I would carry books around singing and making up stories. Music has always been a huge part of me. I actually don’t know what I would be like if I was not musically inclined, but we won’t even go there. I started taking piano lessons when I was around seven and learned with the Suzuki method, which is a lot of listening and then learning to play the music back, Aural Skills! I started voice lessons when I was thirteen and these two shaped pretty much my entire life from then on out. Around the time I started voice lessons I taught myself to sight-read music so I could accompany myself while singing, and now I do that whenever I’m stressed or want to unwind. In high school I was part of multiple choirs, operas and festivals…. Music was all I did in high school. I was SURE I was going to go to college and opera would be my career of choice because I LOVED music so incredibly much. It was all I did every single moment of my day.
College though surprised me…. All the classes I had to take just to pass basic music skills. Freshman year I was taking about 23 credits a term plus working part time, plus practicing outside of classes for all the recitals I was in. That is when I got sick and stressed a lot of the time and started weight lifting. In weight lifting I found another passion that helped me actually build up strength and endurance to sing for long periods of time and my stress wasn’t as bad. Those two aspects together I believe really helped me survive college. I loved all the music and singing I was doing, but at the same time I loved that part during my day when I’d just leave everything behind for an hour or so and work out. My freshman and sophomore year of college were full of busy work, but I was for the most part happy… just busy! I had the most wonderful voice teacher who was so positive. I really enjoyed working with this teacher, and I feel I learned quite a lot.
Now this next part is hard for me to write, and even now I’m afraid somehow this post will get back to this person and I’ll get in trouble. Junior year I was given a different voice teacher. Now your voice teacher and you have a special bond that is really emotional because you are in a very vulnerable state when working with them. Your voice is a part of you and you are opening up to this person for their help, guidance, and teaching, hoping they will help you grow, but also teach you in a way so you don’t hate yourself as a person because of how open and emotional you are in the lessons. My second voice teacher I believe was not a good fit for me at all. I still wonder why we were put together to this day due to the fact every lesson would pretty much end with me leaving in tears. Music was no longer enjoyable for me due to the fact I was afraid of my lessons. I was always doing something wrong, bad, or stupid and could not ever get anything right it seemed for my teacher. There were many moments when I would start to second-guess myself and actually believe that I was unteachable. At my school you cannot really change voice teachers without a lot of drama and politics involved so I stuck with this teacher and just tried my best to please.
Those two years were probably the hardest in my life so far that I’ve experienced. My self-confidence plummeted, because I could never seem to get anything right. The saddest aspect for me though was I lost my love of music. I no longer would jam at home and the only time I would sing or play is all the practicing I did to try and please my teacher. It wasn’t really about what I loved or wanted anymore. I got tunnel vision and just wanted to finish my major so I could be DONE. One of my dear friends worked at my school and her office was my safe space. It was my space I could go cry and talk about everything. I also met one of my best friends around that time and she was my anchor and person during that rough patch. I can’t express how grateful I am for my friends there and the gym. My passion for weight lifting deepened and it become my main stress relief because music was now the cause of most of my stress.
Senior year rolled around, and I began to prep for my senior recital. I don’t remember the exact moment, it was early in the school year, but I suddenly woke up. I think it was because I was so close to being done and I wanted to really love my senior recital because that was the bow on my graduation. That was my night to shine and I wanted it to truly be my night. I wanted to be in love with the music I was singing. I wanted to be in love with music again. So I decided to branch out. I was so used to singing classical music I wanted to try a different style and see if I could re-find my love and passion for music. So I joined Gospel Choir… and found my love again for music. That class and my teacher were so welcoming, and we all just had fun with the music. My teacher not only became a positive light for me, but also an amazing friend. We learned, but loved what we were singing. Another important aspect was I was able to use that time during class to worship and really pour my feelings into what I was singing. That class gave me the confidence to be very persistent about choosing only music I really loved for my recital. Gospel choir gave me confidence again and I think it’s so incredible that I re-found my love for music through music.
My senior recital was wonderful, I had so many loved ones come and support me, and after that everything was smooth sailing. I didn’t let my teacher’s words affect me anymore. I became resilient and passionate about music again. When I walked across the stage to get my degree I can’t even express the feelings I had inside of me. The main one was pride though. I was proud of the fact that I pushed through and I finished. To this day when people ask me what some of my favorite memories in college were I have to really think. I truly only had good ones here and there. I think my favorite memories though would be Gospel choir, my friends I made and love so much, and my journey to re-loving music. Music is again a passion of mine and a stress reliever. I may not want to have a career in music, but I love singing and performing. It’s amazing what life can throw at you sometimes, but what really matters is how you respond. Are you going to pick yourself back up and keep pushing forward or are you going to stay down? I can tell you from my experience it is so rewarding when you get back up. Life is really precious and we can’t let the waves and struggles keep us down because when we look around there are so many things to be grateful for.