My Musical Journey
Last, but definitely not least, my third goal for A Suite Sound is to share my personal journey as a musician and music therapist. My hope is for you to be encouraged and inspired by the stories and experiences I share. As Maria sings in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning, A very good place to start” (Hammerstein II, 1959).
I began taking private piano lessons at age 4. I enjoyed my lessons, practices, and recital participation. By the time I was in junior high, I was playing up to four hours per day. I always looked forward to and treasured each and every piano lesson. This is also when I started participating in piano festivals and ensembles, additional piano recitals, and chose to join my church’s junior high worship team as a keyboardist.
At some point while in junior high, my love of piano was expressed to someone and they asked me the following question: “Do you like playing piano or are you passionate about playing piano?” This question stumped me because at the time, I thought that in order to be passionate about something, you had to be uniquely gifted. I knew that I absolutely loved playing piano, but I also knew that I had to work very hard to make progress. I was repeatedly asked this question until I began to realize that profound talent does not equal passion. Yes, I was passionate about playing piano.
Going into high school, I knew that I wanted to become a professional musician, one way or another, but I wasn’t sure what this would exactly look like. I continued participating in as many musical opportunities as possible— considering the fact that I attended an early-college STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) high school. In order to graduate from this STEM high school with my Associate’s degree, I had to cut down on my practice time and usually practiced late at night, after having spent the evening focused on homework. Nevertheless, I continued preparing for piano recitals, festivals, state theory exams; participating in church worship leadership; and I even started teaching a few piano students of my own, later in high school.
While a junior in high school, I was encouraged by family to consider pursuing a degree in art. Although, I did thoughtfully consider this route due to my enjoyment of creative opportunities, my heart stayed tuned to pursuing a career in music. It wasn’t until after my senior year had started that I decided to pursue a music degree and then began trying to decide between studying music education or music therapy.
While spending time with one of my closest friends, we decided at the last minute to go see If I Stay in the movie theater. As the last scene closed, I started sobbing. I truly believe that the Lord used this movie to clearly show me what the next step in my life was to be— becoming a music therapist. Naturally, the next question was, “which schools offer this degree?”
After a lot of research and applying to a couple of schools for music therapy, I very quickly felt confident in accepting the offer to attend the Music Therapy Program at Texas Woman’s University (TWU). After completing three years of private piano lessons at TWU, I performed my capstone piano recital. The very next day, I performed and passed my music therapy proficiency exam which allowed me to begin applying for music therapy internships. During my last semester of classes, I served as an undergraduate representative for the music therapy faculty search committee.
While a music therapy intern at a music therapy center, I designed and directed a Piano Festival with the primary focus on students enrolled in adapted piano lessons. I have since been nominated to present my project’s findings at the Southwestern Region of the American Music Therapy Association Conference and at the Texas Music Teachers Association Convention.
I have gained experience working with children and adolescents with various developmental and intellectual disabilities in the clinic, school and music band settings, adults in an inpatient psychiatric facility, and residents in memory care.
This road has most definitely not always been easy. There have been countless short nights filled with hours of practice and studying, gallons of coffee consumed in the following mornings, and many tears shed in times of uncertainty. But, amidst all of this, the Lord has faithfully provided me with strength, perseverance and the loving support of my teachers, family and friends. I am deeply passionate about music and its effect in therapy, and I am truly honored to be a part of the professional music world.
Hammerstein II, O. (1959). Do-Re-Mi [Lyrics]. Retrieved from http://www.metrolyrics.com/doremi-lyrics-the-sound-of-music.html