Da Musically Inclined Bomb

DePauw University's First Year Seminar on Writing about Music

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Part of Your World: Week (gosh, really?) Four

One thing I suppose you all will find out about me, sooner or later, is that I am a huge Disney fan. This started before I can even remember, with a movie you all should know: The Little Mermaid. According to my parents, I was so in love with this movie, I would ask my parents to let me watch it over and over and OVER again ad nauseum. As a result, I learned the song "Part of Your World" by heart. As they tell it, they remember me coming down the stairs of our old house many a time and singing the entire song to them, in my cute (and not terribly out of tune) two-year-old voice.

That was just the beginning of my long music history. In third grade, along with most everyone in my class, I was asked to pick out an instrument I wanted to play. I chose the flute. With this choice came private lessons and band, as well as a small discovery that, in retrospect, was an epiphany. There were times when everyone was playing together, and I could feel the music - more than the richness of the low brass, the sweetness of the woodwinds, and the pulse of the percussion. To hear all of us making music as an ensemble, working together to communicate in a universal language - that's when something clicked, and somewhere I thought, "This is it." I was moved.

Halfway through fifth grade, my dad's job took us overseas to Windsor, England, and then, halfway through sixth, to Copenhagen, Denmark. As wonderful as my experiences there were, it was hard for me to find and keep a steady private flute teacher, what with the stress of moving, settling in, switching schools, and finding friends. But these weren't musically dead years at all. In seventh grade in Denmark, two things changed me as a musician. The first was my discovery of the musical Les Misérables by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, based on the novel by Victor Hugo. I had recently become involved in the Drama Club at school, and at the request of a friend, saw a medley from Les Mis performed at their concert. I became obsessed with the haunting and inspiring music, bought the CD, and promptly memorized the entire show. The marriage of the deep, tragic story and the appropriately heartbreaking music thrilled me. At about the same time, I took a music class in school where we got to dabble in various instruments, composed little melodies, and performed songs for each other. It was because of this class, along with my newfound love of theatrical vocal music, which convinced me to start choir in 8th grade, after moving back to our house in Illinois the summer before.

It was tricky to juggle choir and band at my school, not to mention the stresses of another move. But as the year went on, I became more and more frustrated in band, and looked forward to choir more and more. I hated practicing for flute lessons, but sang my choir music all the time. By the end of the year, I decided to drop the flute and devote myself solely to choir in high school. My mom agreed, on the condition that I would take voice lessons. Little did I know then how lucky I was to study with Linda Ogden Hagen, a vocal professor at a local liberal arts college. Because of four years of her wonderful training, singing became more than just a favorite pastime – it became my passion.

Also because of my teacher, I was able to spend the summer of 2005 at Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan, in the Advanced Choral program. Those six amazing weeks would not only reaffirm music as my focus, but expand my musical interests. The air at Interlochen is alive with creative enthusiasm; you can practically taste it. Mix the charming rustic setting with the best and the brightest of all the arts from all over the country and the world, and you have a haven of inspiration, talent and learning. Through my classes and interactions, my musical experience spread beyond performing to include conducting, teaching and composing. Besides theory, vocal technique, and choral and solo literature, I learned the basics of conducting, which led to an interest in the subtleties of ensemble direction. I also heard the works of composers at camp, and my brain began buzzing with ideas about my own compositions. I would later set a poem I wrote at camp for a SSA choir and piano. These experiences made me think about my future as a musician – would I end up teaching music? Or directing a choir? Perhaps writing music? A whole realm of possibility lay open to me.

Now I’m standing on the brink of the rest of my life, an ocean of musical possibilities crashing in waves at my feet. Getting into DePauw was such a relief, because it meant that someone else believed in me, my talent and my passion, and was willing to welcome me into a community of people with the same passion. And now, although I’m a lot older, I can sing Part of Your World just as I did at two years old, with a new meaning for myself and my future:

“Ready to know what the people know,
Ask 'em my questions
And get some answers...”

I’m finally a Part of Your World. It’s good to be here.


To my first draft...


At 9/17/2006 3:07 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

It's funny that you were in love with The Little Mermaid. I was pretty much the same way with Beauty and the Beast.

At 9/17/2006 3:32 PM, Blogger Nat said...

I find it funny that most of us vocalists started out as instrumentalists....wonder why we switched. Do you ever regret dropping flute?

At 9/17/2006 3:39 PM, Blogger Emily Rose said...

Well I also find it "funny" that we switch around instruments. I think it's kind of a mark of true musicians. Most people who love to perform will pick up any instrument and try to make music from it. I know when i played the violin my teacher would always say sing with the violiin, and when I sang, my voice teadcer would tell me to sing with the warmth of the violin.

At 9/17/2006 4:47 PM, Blogger Becca said...

Nat - not really. I guess that's part of how I knew voice was my passion. I would like to learn other instruments - I'm seriously considering cello if I pass piano soon - but I know the voice is so different and individual, I could never give it up. Flute, I could. I did, after all.

At 9/17/2006 7:48 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

I enjoyed your use of words in the first paragraph and your last sentence is very creative.

At 9/17/2006 11:37 PM, Blogger Vera Lynn Waters said...

i know i said this in your first one, but i love how you repeat the little mermaid thing at the end. it adds so much flow to your essay. i love the little mermaid too. but don't you think the second one sucked?

At 9/18/2006 1:49 PM, Blogger Becca said...

Never saw the second. Generally not a good idea to watch the scond of Disney movies... except Shrek.


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