March is National Music in our Schools month, and with the Find Your Life Foundation as my charity for the Pittsburgh Marathon, it only seemed fitting that I take some time to explain why this is so important to me.
Music saved my life.
I know that this is something that is over exaggerated all the time by people saying that “____ saved their life.” But I mean this. Music saved me.
Without music, I never would have been able to cope with life. I was always an easy kid to pick on with being short and having a food allergy, and the constant teasing did take its toll.
Early on, when I was about 8, I started learning the piano. Not too long into that, I almost gave up. I was struggling to make my fingers play the correct notes and no matter how much I practiced, I couldn’t get it. My parents told me I had to go in and tell my teacher myself, they weren’t going to quit for me.
I was ready to go. I walked in all by myself through the side door of her house, and I didn’t even make it to the piano before I stopped dead. Sitting at the piano was a member of our church congregation, probably 15 years older than me playing Moonlight Sonata.
I stayed for my lesson and never quit again.
Had Eric not been sitting at the piano, playing that song, at that very moment, I may have walked right back out and never touched the piano again. And if that had happened, my life would have drastically changed.
When I look back on my life (all 24 years of it), it’s defined by moments influenced by music. My first experience in chorus, when my teacher gave me the solo and then took it away because a parent complained that “the homeschooled girl” was picked over her child – and I learned that people were cruel, and even though you may have earned something and been the best person for the part, you don’t always get picked. My first big stage performance in junior high school when I had to swallow my fears and just give it a go. The pressure of accompanying a chorus in high school with only a week of practice on the song. Dealing with personal conflicts off stage when you have to be in love with that same person on stage.
And then there’s the times when music carried me through some of the hardest times of my life. Physical sickness and pain, emotional turmoil, anxiety problems that still follow me around today. I’ve had teachers, even if they didn’t know it, who brought me back from a dark place in my life and gave me hope.
Music enabled me to push my own limits. In college I taught myself a Bach and Beethoven piece and signed up to audition for a piano minor. I had never been trained in classical music before, and didn’t work with a teacher prior to my audition. I just spent hours practicing, and YouTubbing to see if it sounded right. The day of my audition, in a room with three amazing pianists, I played what I rehearsed, and a miracle happened, I was accepted. That experience single-handedly taught me that I can do anything I commit myself to, even if people say that it’s impossible.
Without music, I know I wouldn’t be the successful person that I am today, and to celebrate what music has done for me, I created this slideshow of some of my favorite moments on the stage, set to one of my favorite musical theatre songs.
Donate to the Marathon For Music here.