Da Musically Inclined Bomb

DePauw University's First Year Seminar on Writing about Music

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Autobiography: Week... um, I've lost count

Part of Your World: Week… um, I’ve lost count

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.

It may not be a huge, symbolic whatsit that I sang “Part of Your World” a bazillion times when I was two, but in any case, music is my life. I can't imagine I'd be half as talented a musician without creative drive. More importantly, without creativity I would not understand my passion for music. I know that if it weren't for music, I'd probably have no clue what to do with my life. The joy of creativity and the self-fulfillment of good performance are the best aspects of music - the proverbial chemicals that make me high, if ‘music is a drug’. And even though we are a society of addicts, no other "drug" I know of has the same overwhelming effect, not to mention no negative side effects. How did I get addicted to music?

Well, The Little Mermaid 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, directing a choir, or perhaps writing music? A whole realm of possibility lay open to me.

What will I do with music? To quote Matthew Fox from his blog, "Creativity is both humanity’s greatest gift and its most powerful weapon." So if I am a creative musician, how will I use this gift and weapon? How will my creativity change my world? When asked what we see our talents doing for others, many of us admitted that music was mostly a selfish pastime, and I would be guilty of that too. But after giving this some thought, I can see that music is not just a private indulgence. As a singer, especially as a singer with a future full of potentiality, I will have so many opportunities to turn my selfish passion into an enlightening gift. Whether by interpreting others' works, educating the next musical generation or producing music of my own, my world will profit. In a more spiritual analogy, the Bible states that God blesses us with gifts, and we, to show our gratitude, must use them to brighten our world. Indeed, it would be wrong for me to keep my talents to myself.

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.


At 10/29/2006 5:08 PM, Blogger iheart-t-ravs said...

Really good. You could probably afford to cut a few sentences out here and there, but the overall length is good.

At 10/29/2006 9:37 PM, Blogger Godfather Outlaw said...

good good... you should add some pics of young becca, or any becca at all, we all want to see them.

At 10/29/2006 10:07 PM, Blogger Mistuh Bond said...

good, good....there's a few things that tend to repeat themselves, but otherwise it's good. i agree with andrew when i say let's see some pics of becca.

At 10/29/2006 10:19 PM, Blogger Becca said...

How would pictures help? I have baby pics on facebook, if you care that much.

This time, I focused on incorporating the last bio (which was completely different) with my other drafts. Did it work?

At 10/29/2006 11:03 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

I also looooove being with people who share my passion for once.

At 10/29/2006 11:22 PM, Blogger Emily Rose said...

I like all of your revisions. I think it is time to come up witha solid title that encompasses all of your thoughts and ideas.

At 10/29/2006 11:32 PM, Blogger Vera Lynn Waters said...

i like that y0u br0ught b0th 0f y0ur bi0s t0gether. i wasn't sure which 0f the tw0 i liked better, and n0w i d0n't have t0 ch00se. as f0r the pictures, it's just f0r fun. it'd be nice t0 have s0me visuals with the text. it's n0t necessary th0ugh.

At 10/29/2006 11:43 PM, Blogger Renee said...

Okay... 3 things. First of all, i love baby pics so I think i'll go check those out lol... second, I love little mermaid too... i bought the dvd special edition the other day and i think i was overwhelmed with excitement! now.. about the blog lol... I feel like you use conversational writing a lot. Maybe delete some repeated sections or things that arent really necessary (so to speak) ohh... one more thing.. way to post on time this week lol :)

At 10/30/2006 8:14 AM, Blogger Nat said...

Pics could help, but might also be distracting.


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