One of my first memories is my mom, cleaning, to the sound of Stevie Wonder’s “Songs In the Key of Life”. We would dance around the house and, before we knew it, the house was sparkling clean. Every Christmas, before my siblings and I were allowed to come out and open our gifts, we would hear the Carpenters’ “Christmas Portrait” playing from the living room as my parents put the final touches on a Christmas display that was always both charming and magical. When I was 10, I discovered “Oldies” on 101.1 and became obsessed. My friends and I would turn up the music and sing along to the Ronnettes, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Smokey Robinson, and The Beach Boys. As a teenager, my bus driver listened to an Old School station. I remember the kids on the bus complaining, begging her to change the station, but I was secretly happy as we drove along listening to Zapp and Roger’s “Doo Wa Ditty”. Though I had quit a very short stint with piano lessons when I was 6, I begged my parents for lessons again and learned to play every piece of music we had. I listened to music all the time, and I loved to sing and play the piano- I had true passion for music.
Then I started college as a Music Major. And I failed. I failed so badly that I was put on academic probation. In college, we weren’t doing any of the music I was used to, and my knowledge of theory was so basic, I struggled constantly. I started to re-think my major and decided, for a time, to major in English. Then it was Social Work. Then it was Women’s Studies. I was lost. One day, I took a shortcut back to my car, through the music department and I heard someone singing. My. Heart. Leapt! I felt so alive, I knew this was the place for me, and that I needed to go back to my first major.
When I went back, this time, I had more than passion- I was armed with a plan. I knew theory was a weakness for me, so I scheduled extra time to study it. I went to study groups and to office hours with my professors. I knew that Pop music was my strength, so I took a Jazz/Pop Styles Vocal classes and my world changed. Singing Jazz, I found where my voice felt most at home, and started to see potential for my future. Others started to see that potential too, and my instructors selected me for a scholarship and to perform at a convention in Toronto. As a result of that performance, I received a scholarship to the acclaimed Berklee College of Music and, as a result of that degree, I completed a Masters at Boston University. Ten years later, I have been fortunate to teach some amazing students and be a part of music making on a daily basis.
I think back on those college years and how completely they have shaped my life. I had great parents and they did a wonderful job raising me, teaching me, and introducing me to music that became a great passion of mine. But it wasn’t until I had a plan to be successful and found my individual potential that I really found who I wanted to be. Once I knew that, the motivation to become that person followed naturally.
So, when I teach, I am seeking not only to help my students develop the passion they have, but to help them see potential and create a plan to reach that potential. That will, inevitably, be different for each student. For some, music will always be an enriching hobby. For others, they will dabble in the professional music world while pursuing other interests. And, for some, they will find their career and livelihood as I did. Whatever their potential, I consider it an honor and a gift to be a part of that journey.