Ever since I was a child, music has enchanted me. It spoke directly to me, from an invisible world. Back then, world was larger, realer and more intense. It felt mysterious and nostalgic, pregnant with memories I hadn't lived long enough to create.
I asked my parents to play violin when I was three; I wasn't very good. I hated practicing, but loved performing. Somehow, they put up with it for almost a decade before switching to piano.
While I was precociously smart, and amazingly curious, I made a mess of public school. It was awful. I didn't like other people telling me what to do, wore only sweatpants and t-shirts, and was overweight. I was bullied a lot, felt isolated, and on many levels, didn't belong. I didn't wanna go.
By 12, I really wasn't doing well -- depression, skin issues, and severe digestive issues. An integrative MD took a then cutting edge allergen test: checking for undigested food particles in the blood stream. I was placed on a "leaky gut" diet; he advised me to, before I eat, look at the food and ask myself "how does this serve me?". The mainstream medical community is catching up. The changes to my body, as well as the way I made decisions, were drastic.
On a dime, I had to make new choices. I was now going through life, improvising with 'a restriction'. The questions I've had to ask myself "How can I make choices that feel good to me?" informs my music on a deep level. It lead to new lands.
These challenging experiences lead to developing a deep, personal dream world for myself. Singing songs to myself, writing poems, living on the edge of being a "funcitonal person." High school had big ups and downs, but theatre, music and sports were appropriate and successful outlets for my energies.
In college, I finally emerged outwards, into work I cared about. Over the years, I connected with inspiring teachers and magic friendships. My inner world found the company it longed for; and it came into dialogue with my intellect.
Studying under Evan Hirsch, I worked harder than I ever have.
Since graduating from college, my emotional life has finally had a chance to develop. These days, I am meditating on more deeply connecting to my body, and living from my heart.
By eliminating foods from my diet, . I experienced the social difficult of feeling connected to others but not. Kids accused me of eating cat food for lunch (admittedly, steamed vegetables, rice crackers, and cans of salmon were not the hippest thing for my mom to pack me). Being an outsider informed the way I make space for other people.
I really wanted to be on the "A team" for soccer and basketball. I started working really hard, going on runs, biking, and pushing myself. Those lessons proved invaluable later.
In college I approached my piano studies like a sport: get rest, work hard, put in double sessions. In music, ideas are expressed through the body.
While Destiny's Child and the Backstreet Boys were my favorites, my love for secretly grew for albums love by my sister and father (Norah Jones, Neil Young -- now some of my favorites).
Years of patient dedication to the mystery of music will grew my artistic self like a wild vine, but university education clarified my path integrated my intellect and body.
I grew hugely in the kinesthetic and analytical elements. I was always a very intuitive musician -- but learning to use my body intelligently, and unfurl the full power of my mind.
Music invites us into silence, into an invisible world full of feeling, designed by and for our imaginations. The darkest experiences of life, along with the deepest joys, can be collected, represented and remembered through sounds. Although music unfolds through the present moment, it connects us to the ancient, the instinctual, and to our souls.
Music shows us there is hospitality in the universe. It welcomes us into the moment, giving us shapes and colors to please us and help us know ourselves. Although it is strange to be here - often a stranger or tenant in our body and mind - music welcomes us home. It is as if music reaches out to us from the invisible world we must belong to. It is self-soothing as well, functioning like a dream, amplifying our unconscious innerworkings, mirroring back our own experiences and energies as we make it.
And yet, music is made by us creatures; music belongs to people. Despite the perfection of a brilliant performance, musicians make music in the mud. Thousands of hours alone, countless anxieties and "should haves", insecurities, botched performances, dozens of notebooks full of naive lyrics. The audience sees the shining moment, but seldom appreciates the moments that went into it. The creative process is, well, a process; there is no fixed destination. You may places your icons and teachers up at the top of the hill, effortlessly singing their songs as you whack out a path through the underbrush. The more time you give to your craft, the more clearly you can hear them whisper, gently asking to be climbed.
I have been influenced profoundly by counterculturist and traditional figures alike. Religious figures have as much to teach us as atheists do. Hosting multiple world views inside ourselves allows a richer, deeper, truer life.
I benefitted from an extraordinary university education. Exhausted from an unhealthy, depressive, alienating experience of public school, I carried more weight in my mind than anyone can. I had more success and more failure than other of my peers. Music had soothed me and softened that ride. I knew I wanted to be a musician, but I didn't know what kind. I wanted to write songs, but hated how my voice sounded. I wanted to improvise, but I didn't know how to play jazz. I loved classical music, but I couldn't read music very well. Rife with contradictions, I enrolled at the only university I was accepted to, Brandeis.
From the beginning, my abilities and desire were questioned by the music department. During my first semester, I had one professor (who really loved me) tell me that my sight reading ability was "scary. Is there anything else you could do? Be a writer? Do you have to do this?".
Evan Hirsch rescued me. Having started college as an engineer, he had an intellectually grounded, embodied approach to mastering classical and contemporay music. Because I was smart, excited, passionate, and already familiar with piano, he took me under his wing and built my skills from the ground up. I don't think anyone else would have been up to the task.
I went on to study composition with David Rakowski, take lessons with Jared Redmond & Eve Kodiak, and get involved with lots of different concert series. I founded the "Undergraduate composers' club" and held site specific concerts around the Brandeis campus. I learned a lot about the importance of community; latent possibilities lay underneath our social fabric. Individuals can carry and speak up for the collective, and serve by being themselves and meeting their own needs.
My vitality as a musician stems from all the artists who have inspired me, challenged me, and nurtured me. Through their work and through their company.