I cannot remember a time in my life where music was not a guiding force.
I grew up in the small town of Crosby, Texas, approximately 30 miles NE of downtown Houston. Ask anyone who grew up there what Crosby is best known for, and they will quickly respond “Crosby is the capital of gas stations, grass farms and Mexican food.” I think that statement sheds a brilliant light on just how far removed the town is from the arts and classical music. But I am lucky, because my parents really tried to give my sister and me a bit more culture than our surroundings encouraged. I was in the obligatory ballet and tap classes when I was a kid, but I never felt like it fit. My parents had a piano, but I was never drawn to take lessons (much to the chagrin of my Mom). My paternal grandmother loved classical music, but as a stubborn 4-year-old I would never let her keep it on NPR for very long when I was in the car. My maternal grandparents exposed me to the glory of Czech polkas at a very young age; I remember dancing around their living room with my grandpa to Beer Barrel Polka on a regular basis. I was the lead in a school musical and a church musical. Music was always there in one way or another, whether I wanted it there or not.
I finally had a chance to join band when I was entering 6th grade. I had already decided that I would play the flute because 1) my mom and aunt had played it, and 2) we owned one already. Plus, joining band got you out of P.E. and I was never the athletic type. The sixth-grade version of myself had no idea I was making a decision that would literally shape what my life would be. I fell in love with my instrument. I practiced for more than the required 30 minutes every day. I sat first chair, and I was terrified I would not make it into the middle school Symphonic Band the next year. I lived for my band music and the flute and everything that went along with it.
In middle school we went to see a Houston Symphony performance. I remember the trip: I sat with my friends Jennifer and Kim; we were in the mezzanine level; I’m ashamed to say I remember making fun of a classmate as we waited for the performance to start. But the thing I remember most is being completely overwhelmed with awe when the performance began. I have no idea what was played that day. I just know I made the decision right there as a 7th grader – I was meant to be a musician and I was meant to work for the Houston Symphony. Music became my life.
I worked really hard and earned a music scholarship. I went off to college and as a music student I literally slept, ate, and breathed music every minute of every day. I spent hours at a piano doing ear training exercises; I went to rehearsals every day; I performed solo recitals; all of my friends were music majors. Everything was on track exactly as I had imagined it – until I realized my last semester of college that I no longer loved playing my flute like I used to; in fact, I was more in love with producing a recital or setting up for a concert than playing it. So I changed my focus, and I found Arts Administration – a perfect fit.
I like to think that my 7th grade concert experience is what inspired what my life has become. That concert was the driving force behind achieving what I wanted in my life. Music has given me amazing experiences, beautiful friendships and a great career. I think back to specific moments (my wedding, graduations, driving home from college) and there is always a piece (classical or pop or rap or country – I’m not a music snob by any stretch and if you’ve read my other blogs you’ll know the musical items that inspire me the most) that comes to mind that is representative of that moment. It continues to inspire my life as a whole, and I am eternally grateful.
So that’s my story. Has music played an important role in your life, shaping where you are today? Can you pinpoint a ‘musical memory’ that made an impact on you and inspired you to do something different?