I’ve come to an important realization. I am utterly clueless about music these days. I submit the following facts as evidence:
– I don’t own an iPod or any kind of a decent music system
– I probably have less than 20 songs on my phone and I listen to them like once a week.
– I listen to music less than anyone I know. Rarely in the car or around the house, and at work I listen to the same handful of CD’s over and over. In the car, I mostly listen to comedy routines, books on CD, or just nothing.
– I’m pretty good on oldies, but when it comes to current music, I am seriously clueless. I don’t know most of the words and I constantly get the artists all mixed up.
Do you know why that is so weird?
When I was in school, music was my LIFE. I was a bona fide Music Major in college and from early childhood, I devoted major hours of every day to singing, playing, listening to music or dancing.
I was literally a real-life Glee kid. The biggest dream of my life would have been to go to a Performing Arts school, but there were only a handful of them back then. I sang in many choirs and danced in performing groups from second grade probably every single day into my second year of college. I acted a little, did backstage work, and I played 5 different instruments. I had the dream to have a career in some type of musical field, probably a choir director. The funny thing – almost no one who knows me today would even believe that about me because they’ve never seen that side of me.
When I was about 19, it all came to a screeching halt. I just stopped living a musical life completely and made a complete U-Turn all because of the words of two teachers. They said I wasn’t good enough – and I believed them. Words like that are easy enough to believe, especially coming from someone you think is an expert.
It started in High School. I set my sights on getting into the top music group. I idolized the teacher and getting into that group was my only goal in life. But I auditioned and he didn’t choose me for the group. That was literally the biggest, most devastating disappointment of my entire life. It’s been decades, but I don’t think I ever wanted anything in my life so badly before or since. And I had it rubbed in my face every day of my Senior year when nearly every single friend of mine headed off to that class while I had to go elsewhere. I felt like I had “not good enough” tattooed on my forehead.
But I had great hopes for college and I was so excited by the array of classes available to me for practically free – this was a Community College and it was dirt cheap, which was about what I could afford. I took dance lessons, musical theory, acting workshops, conducting, performing groups, I loved all of it. And in my second year, I made the top choir. I was over the moon.
Until three months later when the teacher booted me out. He said he had misjudged my talent and that I was messing up his perfect harmonies and his world-class performing group. That was all it took. A conversation that probably lasted less than a minute. The teacher probably doesn’t even remember it, but it literally broke my heart. I dropped his class and the next semester, I packed it all in and dropped every single music class I had in favor of computer programming classes.
I think it’s had a happy ending. I took those piano-loving fingers and put them to better use on a computer keyboard. I’ve made a good living at it over the years, probably better than I would have done as a music teacher or choir director. He was probably even right. I think I was likely pretty decent, but I didn’t have that American Idol-caliber talent and that’s what it usually takes to make a successful career in the competitive music business.
But it was sad what those words took away from me. I never sang again until decades later when I got up enough nerve to join a church choir (no scary audition required). I sing in a gospel choir now for a few months out of the year. I enjoy it, but I’d never try a solo and I clam up if someone around me frowns in my direction or moves away for some reason. I’ll never have the confidence I would have had if I hadn’t heard those words.
Teachers have an awesome responsibility and some of them just do not know how to use that power wisely. I still remember my 5th grade teacher exclaiming sarcastically – Well, even Adrian got the answer right to that one. Ouch! Fortunately, my English teachers loved me, or I probably wouldn’t be writing a blog either!
I wonder sometimes how my life would have been different if I hadn’t made such an abrupt right turn. I won’t ever know, but maybe I’d at least have an iPod! Or be able to recognize a Katy Perry song once in a while…
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