Da Musically Inclined Bomb

DePauw University's First Year Seminar on Writing about Music

Monday, October 30, 2006

Sooo Late

I apologize. I know this is late.

I grew up as the daughter of artists. Ever since I was little I have been exposed to more of the arts than some people will see in their lifetime. As a toddler I spent my afternoons in the dressing rooms, lighting booths or studios of theatres. My mom is a dancer, my father is a techie, the arts were something I was just born for, or so I like to think.

I started taking dance class at the age of 4, which doesn’t seem to relate to the topic of being a musician, but I think it does. The early years of my exposure to any type of the arts began to form me as an individual. In elementary school I was always ridiculously excited to go to music class. I was the little dorky girl who sat in the front row in class and sang her heart out, even if it was out of tune. Through out elementary school I did a lot of stupid performances, Lullabies and Sing A Longs, musical theatre class and things with my mom’s classes. I played piano, but with the combination of me not wanting to practice and my teacher graduating I didn’t stay with it very long. It wasn’t until fourth grade that I actually began to learn music. I decided to play the cello. My teacher wanted me to play cello because she was a cellist and needed cellos in her orchestra, however, my mother wanted me to wait until fifth grade and play flute. I couldn’t wait.

In the rest of elementary school I played cello with the advanced orchestra and went to ISSMA and all the other fun stuff, but thinking back on the situation I realize that I was singing the whole time as well. The first time I went to ISSMA for voice was in sixth grade when the general music teacher was Mrs. Butler. She decided that it was time for me to take singing more seriously so I began to come in after school to work with her. I don’t even remember what I sang at ISSMA that year, but I do remember her having a group of girls perform “It’s a Hard Knock Life” from Annie for the talent show.

Then I moved and went to middle school where I knew no one. I especially didn’t know the music teachers, unlike if I had gone to Clay like I was supposed to. I signed up for orchestra and somehow I ran into the choir director and by eighth grade she had started a “swing choir” as a zero hour class so that I could sing with her. I hated it; it meant I had to get up at 6 a.m. just to go to school and sing with a group of people who didn’t want to be there either. I liked singing, but I didn’t like being around people who didn’t like singing. I informed my parents that I was serious about cello. That year my parents bought me my own cello and I started private lessons.

I loved cello. It was my passion for quite awhile, and somewhere it got turned around. I began to get exposed to musicals. In my seventh grade year I was in Saint Mary’s College’s production of Gypsy. I don’t know what my mother was thinking. I don’t know any other parents who would encourage their children to be part of a show about strippers, but I was. The one middle school kid amongst 20 college students and 2 high school students, it was interesting. As I was leaving middle school I was encouraged to audition for the “show choir” at Adams, but I didn’t. I am a shy person. I don’t often get stage fright because there is a huge gap between the audience and me, but just singing in front of people really makes me nervous. I figured I would be content with just sticking with the orchestra thing. And I was content, until auditions for the musical Mame came around. Mame was one of those musicals that I had seen ever since I was little. My family was weird, instead of Barney, my sister and I watched the Sound of Music. I grew up with Oklahoma, Gypsy, Mame, Sound of Music, Singing in the Rain, the list could go on forever. I had told my parents I was going to audition for the show and when I finally showed up for the audition I chickened out and left. I decided I would be content just playing in the pit. I wasn’t. I wanted desperately to be onstage. Well, again, somehow through the grapevine I got connected with the choir director and before I knew it I was singing with the “show choir” for ISSMA, something a freshmen never does, especially a freshmen that wasn’t even in choir. He also threw me into two other ensembles two weeks before contest and gave me a solo to learn. This man was insane, but I did it.

Sophomore year I was able to actually fit both choir and orchestra into my schedule. I loved choir, the stupid dresses and even stupider music. Orchestra began to slip to the side a little. I was still taking lessons and playing but I had stopped practicing, so I had stopped making progress. This year when musical auditions came around my friends who were seniors refused to let me not audition. So I went, signed up to audition for the chorus and came out with the lead, much to my senior friends disappointment. Well, I had the lead for a total of two weeks, I went on vacation and came back and one of the seniors had brought her mother in and my part was now double cast, which I didn’t really care about because I was still going to be on stage. I fell completely in love with performing this year. I don’t even know how to explain it to you. I was so surprised when on opening night things I had not even consciously been doing made the audience laugh. I loved the atmosphere of the theatre. As I said before, my part was double cast, so two of the night and most of the rehearsals I spent backstage or in the lighting booth. I loved it. You could put me anywhere in a theatre and I was content.

Junior year I was unable to take choir as a class so I worked on music on my own and occasionally with my director during our 17-minute homeroom class. I had auditioned and been accepted into All-State choir and was working on that music on my own as well. My junior year I felt empty when it came to music because I was no longer in orchestra either. Math and science had taken over my schedule. I decided to join the choir, bell choir, and praise band at my church. This had me singing every Sunday and Wednesday. I loved it. Singing with my church allowed me to be exposed to two different types of music, praise music, which I usually just got to have fun with, and choral music again. There was no musical that year, instead we did Macbeth and The Last Night Of Ballyhoo, I was pretty miserable. Well, not miserable, but I realized that year that it was not just the theatre I loved, it was the music. The next year I was not going to let anything stand in the way of doing what made me happy. I was going to make music happen, even if it meant having to take courses by correspondence or dropping one of my AP classes.

Senior year I joined choir again, I still didn’t have time for orchestra but I was able to take Cadet Teaching my second semester. Senior year was probably my happiest year of high school. I was allowed to sing with the Saint Mary’s Women’s Choir so I was finally being challenged. I also sang with All-State again and continued to sing with my church. I took cello lessons until around Christmas time and then stopped because the musical began to take up too much of my time. My second semester of senior year was when I was able to Cadet Teach, first semester I had to take Econ, and I asked if I could teach at Edison with my orchestra teacher. I was allowed to and spent an hour and a half everyday with kids who were in the same spot I had been four years before. It was great, but I also learned that I would probably be driven insane if I ever tried to be a teacher. I only had to teach class every other day because of block scheduling. It was an ideal situation. On the off days I would sit with my “advisor” and we would discuss any number of things from the purpose of life to our favorite desserts. He helped me discover that music was something to enjoy and be passionate about. He helped bring light to a sometimes very dark situation when it came to music and the arts in my school. We also did the musical Grease, which was probably the show that I had the most fun with in high school. I was able to step outside of myself and enjoy performing again. My favorite scene in the entire play was when I got to sit alone on a stool on the stage and belt my heart out. There is no greater feeling than being able to express yourself completely through music. During first semester I did take voice lessons for a short while in order to prepare myself for auditions, but other than that I was pretty much on my own. I had no classical training. My music was all about heart. Music is my passion and I feel like that’s why I’m here. I don’t think I ever really realized all the steps I took to get where I am today.

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