A Slice of Humble Music

August 29 2014

Music has always played a starring role in my life. Growing up, my music teachers told me that I was "musically gifted." It all started with the piano. Then the flute. And the guitar. And the ukulele. Did I mention I was also the champion recorder player in elementary school? Big Deal. I know. BUT that doesn't mean I was actually good at everything, because trust me, I'm not. I might be "gifted," but I can also be lazy.

So in addition to playing instruments, I love listening to them aka going to concerts. Maslow was wrong when he said we need to satisfy our physiological needs before we can focus on our other needs; I'd rather starve and attend a show, because priorities. I swoon hard for artists who sound like butter, especially those males. And when I listen to these artists, I like to emulate what I hear. I like to play my instruments and sing. In the shower, in my bed, in the car, on the moon if I could.

Now we're going to shift gears and talk about college. I went to the University of Virginia--shout out to my fellow Wahoos. For the same weird reason we call our campus "grounds" and refer to freshmen and sophomores as first and second years (love ya, TJ), a cappella is a big part of student life. When I got to school, I thought a cappella was dumb. Given my "extensive" experience with instruments, the idea of singing without them was ludicrous. Then my friends dragged me to an a cappella concert. I saw a girls' group on stage, and I was mesmerized. To quote my gal pal and U.Va alumni, Tina Fey, I saw them on stage and thought, "I want to go to there."

There are three main all-female a cappella groups at U.Va., so I tried out for all of them. Because of the Snowpocalypse (the year we got a zillion inches of snow, totally accurate statistic btw), the schedule was set up differently that year: two of the groups' callback auditions were first and the third group's callback audition was the next week. I got called back to all three, which made my ego big enough to fill a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloon. Gross. Fortunately, all the helium in that ego disappeared when I was rejected from the first two groups.

After these rejections, I was devastated. I didn't realize how much of my identity I had put into music. I also got a rude awakening on the subject of humility, as in, I didn't have any. I mentioned I was lazy, but I realized that my laziness can be the result of my complacency, and smug people suck. I moped around before I also realized I could continue the drama queen life or do something about it. And I can honestly say I have never practiced so hard to get where I wanted--a spot in that last female group.

When I look back on this experience, I remember the dramatic angst I felt, but I'm also reminded of one of many things it takes to be a person of good character. I'm going to be a teaching assistant this upcoming fall. I'm as excited as I am nervous. I'm working with kids that come from completely different backgrounds, some more broken than others and others perhaps who are not so broken at all. Either way, they are kids that deserve to know and take advantage of educational opportunities. All students deserve that. And in some sense, I will be a role model to these students, so I want to be the best example I can be. I'm terrified and humbled by this opportunity, so I'm sharing this story with you as a way to keep myself accountable. Don't let me down.

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New York, New York

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