Here’s a little known fact about me: I have a decent amount of natural talent when it comes to music. Due to a series of unfortunate events I kept it mostly hidden for several years. Now that I’m trying to get back into music again, I want to share how I got into music in the first place, why I hid my talent, and why I’m dusting it off.
I started playing the piano about as soon as I could pull myself up on the bench. I didn’t learn how to read music until I was older, but I learned several songs by ear and touch. By the time I was in kindergarten, I was begging my parents to let me learn another instrument. I vaguely remember trying violin when I was about four, but I don’t have the best dexterity in my left hand so that didn’t last long. (I gave violin another try in high school and ran into the same problem.)
I couldn’t wait to be a fourth grader because then I would finally be old enough to pick a band instrument. My first choice was drums, believe it or not. That was not an option because my school district required two years of piano for percussion, and I had only been taking lessons for a few months. My other top choices were sax, clarinet, and flute. I remember holding both a tenor and alto sax and being told that my hands were too small for either of them. I couldn’t get decent sound out of the clarinet to save my life. I overheard an older student warming up on flute, and right then and there I fell in love with it.
I was in band from fifth grade up until I graduated from high school. At one point I honestly thought I might want to major in music performance, so I began taking private flute lessons. That didn’t last long. I loved band but I absolutely hated taking lessons. I also had serious doubts about being a professional musician since I had gotten such a late start on taking lessons.
In college, I briefly wondered if I had what it took to be a music therapist. I was so insecure that it only took one person telling me I wasn’t smart enough to derail that idea.
My relationship with music deteriorated even more after that. I knew several music majors and musicians, most of whom had egos the size of Brazil. They felt threatened by my musical talent. It was like their minds couldn’t make room for anyone else’s ability.
I came to the (warped and wrong) conclusion that music was to blame for my friends’ selfishness and hurtful attitudes. I decided that I needed to get music out of my life or I would become just like every musician who had ever hurt me. For about a year, I actually lied and said “no” whenever anyone asked me if I played an instrument.
A few years ago, I was working as a TA for a few different church childcare programs. One of my bosses got it out of me that I could hold my own on the guitar. I started playing a few songs with the kids each week. They love it, and that terrified me.
Recently, I realized something important. It wasn’t music that had hurt me. It was insecurity and selfishness. These “friends” did not hurt me by being musicians. They hurt me by being heartless and insensitive. They were already like that before they became musicians. I got to a point where I realized that I will still be me even if I pursue music.
Right now I’m not completely sure what pursuing music is going to look like. I have to practice a lot more and get my jaws and brain back in shape. I’m thinking about joining a community orchestra at some point. I loved being in band in high school, but I really like classical music, and we never played much of it. Performing at charity events is another idea I’m flirting with. I’m trying to get it through my head that I don’t have to make money from music in order to love it.