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I Am a Musician

andy warhol music Tattoo

After seeing the tattoo on my leg, I am often asked “Are you a musican?” and I always stumble through the response. “I was. I guess I still am. I’m just not a practicing musician. But it’s still important to me.” When I was growing up, I sang in a nationally recognized choir (from age 9 to 18) and played piano seriously enough that I practiced an hour or two every day. The music department at my college was kind of a mess, so, despite a couple of semesters of choir and private vocal training, I drifted from studying music and got busy with other things (like science and theatre costuming). I still snuck into the music building to bang out a Beethoven sonata or two in one of the practice rooms when I got really stressed out. When I moved to San Francisco for graduate school I brought an electric practice piano, but it was never very satisfying to play and I found I just wasn’t using it enough to justify it taking up so much space in my tiny little studio apartment, so I gave it back to my step-mom. So for the last 5+ years, I haven’t practiced any sort of music.

In January, I started singing with a choir again. Initially, I wasn’t totally sold on the experience. The choir doesn’t require auditions so I got frustrated that I learned my music much more quickly than the choir as a whole. My high range had suffered from neglect (hard to call myself a soprano when I’m barely able to hit a G). There was almost nobody else near my age in the choir (heavily skewed towards retired and elderly) and no time to socialize before or after so I wasn’t making any friends. I was wondering why I was giving up a whole night every week that could be used for sewing.

And then, during the dress rehearsal for our concert two weeks ago, I was hit by a wave of emotion that brought tears to my eyes. It all clicked and the frustrations disappeared. I was a part of making beautiful, powerful, emotional music. I felt again the peace and satisfaction from creating music.

I plan on singing with the choir again when they start up again in the fall. I plan on buying a piano as soon as we have a home of our own.

Are you a musician? Have you walked away from and later re-found an activity that is important to you?

#IAmAWIP

Each week this year I’m going to reflect on an aspect of myself and how it affects me as a sewist, crafter, or blogger. It may get deep, it may get emotional, it may get totally silly. It may be something I’m proud of, it may be something I cringe at, it may be something I aspire to. I may say a lot, I may say a little, I may ask questions, I may not answer them. I don’t quite know where the project will take me, but I’m excited about the journey. I’d be honored to have you join me on this journey. Chime in any time this year in my blog comments, on TwitterInstagram, or your own blog. Join me in my theme for the week or make up your own.

Comments 9

  1. I was a musician in high school, but left music entirely when I went into college because I wasn’t going to pursue a music career and didn’t want to spend every waking moment practicing, performing, or traveling. I was lucky enough to have many musically inclined friends who also didn’t study music at the university level, so when any of us were missing it we would gather for impromptu musical sessions with singing and/or Rock Band playing. We were able to enjoy the community aspect of performance even if we didn’t get the thrill that comes with an audience. Now that that group of friends is scattered to the four corners of the country, I’m probably more nostalgic for those gatherings than for any formal musical event when I was in school. I hope one day I’ll find a new group to share that experience with again.

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  2. Yes, I am a musician. I moved to Asheville and discovered the fretted dulcimer. Within two years I had produced my own cassette tape and had written 8 of the tunes on it. I performed all over Asheville/Atlanta and surrounding areas, but had no interest in traveling any great distance to perform. I eventually drifted away from music and got into art…mostly mixed-media. I also drifted away from that too for a good number of years due to my husband’s debilitating health.

    Within the past 6 months, I have reawakened to the joys of sculpting and drawing. This is once again, my go-to activity to keep me sane. When I have my hands in the mud or wrapped around a pencil, all time literally stops. It is like dropping into another world where nothing matters except the focus and attention needed to create something truly beautiful. But I have already asked the powers-that-be if I should come back in another life, please gift me with a glorious voice that I can share with the world!

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      Oh how interesting! I don’t know that I’ve met a fretted dulcimer player.
      I’m so glad that you have had a been able to re-discover the joys of a creative pursuit. I completely understand how time can completely stop. Yay!

  3. This is a great story! I’m so glad you re-kindled your passion for singing. It must be very liberating to be sewing for a living and making music in your spare time – I’m jealous. :)

    Incidentally, sewing is the important activity that I gave up and returned to after a long absence. I was really into quilting as a teenager, did absolutely no sewing in college, and didn’t get a sewing machine again until a few years ago. Needless to say, I’m glad I’m back. :)

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  4. I was a musician all through primary and high school. I started recorder at 5 and kept it up in ensembles until end of high school. Choir and piano from about 10 yrs until end of school. Then I wanted to be in the school band and do music camp so took up the trumpet at 14 and was doing instrumental music as a final year subject. Got glandular fever, couldn’t play the trumpet, wound up repeating final year, without the music subject. Enrolled in Science at uni and hardly did any music again ;o) It was such a big part of my school identity – I was in the youth orchestra, school band and combined schools band, recorder guild (so uncool!).

    I can still sight read music and now my 6 yr old is learning keyboard and in the school choir, and it’s fun to duet with her – even if it is just hot cross buns! Hoping she’ll take up a band/orchestra instrument soon. Choir sounds fun, I loved that group music stuff, being part of something – I just bust out some karaoke at a bar every now and then…..

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      How fun that you can share music with your daughter after it was such an important part of your young life!
      For as much as I love to sing, and for how ridiculous I often like to be, I’ve only ever had fun doing karaoke a couple of times, but I’m enjoying picturing you doing karaoke now!

  5. I was/am also a musician, both piano and choir. I have music notes tattooed on my heel because music was such a big part of creating who I am now. Last year my choir brought together the alumni for a special performance, and I fell in love with it all over again. I looked at joining a choir after that was over, but then shyness and worry over losing time sewing and with family prevented any movement on it. I can wholly relate to this post!

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