As you might already know, music is a big deal in my family. We are constantly singing, humming, playing an instrument, etc. at all hours of the day. No one more so than me. I am singing, rapping, and playing my instruments whenever I get the chance.
One of my favorite things to ponder over is how music entered my life and the reason I love it so much. So, what better way to share it than in a blog post? This is the story of how music came into my life and shaped me for the better.
To begin, we have to travel back in time to before I was born, when my parents were in middle school. Both of them were in choirs and such when they were young, at their churches and schools. My dad played trumpet, my mom played flute, and they both played piano. Recitals and shows were common for them. (Actually, we still have some old programs from my moms piano recitals. They’re pretty cool!)
In college, my mom studied and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music education. (My dad, on the other hand, is a banker 😆) They got married, and Mom taught music in several middle and high schools, before she got pregnant with me. After that, she became a stay-at-home mom, and cared for me and my siblings, as they came along.
However, it wasn’t long before she started teaching a children’s choir at the church we were currently attending. She taught the middle choir, which was grades 1-3. There were other choirs at the church too. The choir for kindergarteners, the choir for grades 4-5, the youth choir (grades 6-12), and the Chancel choir, which was for adults. There are several pictures I’ve seen and stories I’ve heard where I was hanging out in the room with Mom while she taught.
Before long, I was old enough to go to the nursery, so that’s where I stayed. I was always singing, even though it was just babbling, and I loved to listen to music!
When I was old enough, I was put in the kindergarten choir. From what I remember, it was fun and simple. We had a snack time, and we sang songs with hand motions, which made it easier to remember the words. Whenever we performed in one of the church services, the audience smiled and cooed at us.
Then, I graduated to first grade, and moved up to my mom’s choir. There, I learned more and more about music, including the staff, clefs, and scales. Most of my friends were in the same choir as me, and we were constantly joking around.
Around third grade, I started playing the handbells in the children’s handbell group. I had a blast! To this day, I still play in the group, and can play up to five bells at a time.
After my mom’s choir, I moved up to the fourth and fifth grade choir, which I had dubbed “the big choir”. Around this time, the choirs were starting to thin out. Where there had been 30 kids in one choir, that number was sliced in half. In “the big choir”, there’d been 20 kids, but when I moved up, there were only ten kids. It was kind of saddening to see all these choirs slowly diminishing.
In “the big choir”, I learned about rhythm and breathing exercises. I was still in the handbell group, and was starting to get more and more advanced. Thanks to choir, I was starting to read sheet music, but it wasn’t a second nature to me. Thankfully, the handbell director circled where our notes were so we wouldn’t get lost and play at the wrong time.
It was around this time that I started to get interested in piano. I’d always loved the sound, and my dad would get on there every now and then and play one of his favorites (A common one was “As the Deer”. Look it up! It’s gorgeous!) My mom taught piano and voice lessons when I was little, so she had a couple of learning books. I took them out and began teaching myself piano. It was a long process. For years, I played out of the same books. Fortunately, this helped me get pretty good at reading music!
Then, I graduated up to Youth choir, which is where I am now. This is where I’ve gleaned the most information and experience. I love going to choir, because our director is funny and patient, and he’s very talented. From Youth choir, I’ve learned how to project my voice, breathe correctly, sing correctly (it makes me cringe when I sing the wrong way 😅), and play with my voice, which is something I do 24/7! Honestly, it feels more like a one-on-one lesson, than a group lesson.
When I first graduated to Youth choir, the director wasn’t the present director we have now. He was still talented, and I learned a lot under him. I also had a good time getting to know everyone in the choir. There were a lot of members at the time, and they were all talented. Then, the choir director was called to a different church several hours away, and our church had no director. The retired director, who was still attending our church, filled in for a while, but he eventually moved to Texas, and we had no one, yet again. So, my dad filled in! He did a great job (even though that’s probably me being biased), but unfortunately, several of the people in the group left, either for college or some other thing.
To make the job easier for my dad, we learned the anthems that the adults were learning. Then, we sang with the adults on Sunday mornings, if we wanted. Out of the whole choir, it was just me and a couple of my friends that sang with the adults. I had such a good time! This went on for several weeks, and my friends stopped joining the adults. I was the only one singing with them, and I loved it. Even when we got a new director, he still allowed me to sing with the adults, to the point where I got my own music folder and robe! I was elated to be able to sing in the Christmas program, and, to this day I am thankful for our choir director allowing me, a 12-year-old, into the adult choir.
This was back in 2017, which was the same year I started taking piano lessons. We were lucky enough to find a tutor fifteen minutes from our house. She was kind and bubbly, and, on my first lesson, I liked her immediately. The first song she assigned me was an easy version of Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”, which I learned in just a few weeks. After a few months had passed, I was reading music like it was my native language, and playing the original score from radio songs like it was nobody’s business.
However, when 2018 started, we left our church to go to a smaller church. I was heartbroken, because it meant I couldn’t sing with the adults and participate in all the musical activities. Fortunately, I was still allowed to play in the handbell group and sing with the Youth choir, which is more of an ensemble, now. Everything’s come to a standstill because of the coronavirus, but I’m still practicing my piano and singing constantly.
Recently, I started teaching myself the flute, which is fun. And, because of all the breathing exercises I did in choir, I’ve learned how to support the air that I need to play.
So, how has all of this influenced me for the better?
Well, thanks to my piano lessons, I’m writing songs and learning to fully appreciate the work that artists put into their albums. I’m learning how to properly convey my thoughts through song, and I’m learning how to teach people (and how not to teach people). I’ve been offered amazing opportunities because of my voice and playing abilities, and I’ve learned how to maturely make decisions, instead of relying on someone else to carry me.
In conclusion, music is special to me. I wouldn’t give it away for anything. Are music lessons worth the money? If you can find the right teacher, then yes, definitely. Learning an instrument can be very helpful to not only you, but other people. Have you ever watched a movie or a TV show and focused mostly on the background music? It helps set the mood for the scene, and convey the correct emotions.
One of my favorite shows to listen to the background music on is Curious George. I’m serious! I dare you to turn it on and listen. The piano is incredible.
This post ended up much longer than I expected! I hope you enjoyed the long read!