Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

My father and uncle frequently got together to write and record music as I was growing up, and I remember falling asleep to their music being played in the basement for all hours. I have been in love with learning music since I finally accomplished “Lean on Me” and “Chopsticks” on the piano as a six-year-old.

I started my true journey into music education in sixth grade when I chose to play cello in my middle school orchestra program. I found an identity through music. It became my “thing” and my parents proudly told people I played the cello as they introduced me to new friends.

It was something I could do that no one else in my family could. Now, twenty-seven years after first studying music “for real,” I have to come to appreciate it for more than how it set me apart from my siblings. I appreciate music for what it has done for my quality of life.

Here are four things that music can promote in life: 

1.) Environment.

I love the fact that I can really appreciate a musical score. Walking around amusement parks, shopping or watching movies, instead of the music involved in each being ambient noise, I listen with appreciation to how the composer was able to capture the moment.

I can really appreciate the added string line in a pop song, I notice quarter note triplets and think about how well they fit right in that moment to change up the monotony of the melody.

2.) Acceptance.

Music brings together people of all types of different backgrounds and all walks of life. It does not matter our age, belief structure, gender, politics or any other facet of separation: we are welcomed in a musical ensemble as long as we can perform adequately on our chosen instrument.

While we may vehemently oppose each other on politics, religious beliefs or even personality, when we come together to play music, none of the issues matter and the product can still be magnificent.

From the first downbeat to the last flourish, the differences no longer matter. We are united in a common goal: beautiful music.

3.) Opportunity.

This skill we’ve come to develop is a unique and useful tool. I consider myself very fortunate that I am able to pick up extra income to ease budget tension or pay for those little extras that pop up such as Christmas presents, football fees, or gymnastics lessons.

While we know that becoming monetarily wealthy by choosing a career in music will be a challenge, we always have a skill that is needed by someone and we are able to pick up that extra income as needed.

We can work for religious organizations, help out in schools, play weddings, teach more private lessons, write exercises or consult. We are very fortunate to have this tool at our disposal.

4.) Friendship and Community.

The longer you live in the music world, the more you realize how integrated you have become in it. The degree of separation is minuscule among musicians; the industry is a small and interconnected one. Whether you run into someone you were in a semi-professional group with, someone you played with in college, or even someone who had the same orchestra director as you, we all seemed to be connected.

It’s amazing who you come in contact with as you grow as a musician. My deepest, most meaningful friendships have occurred through my connection to music. My best friend in high school played in the orchestra with me and was one of the maids of honor at my wedding. My oldest friend I have known since I was 9 years old because he was in orchestra with my sister. We grew close in college, and we continue to keep close.

Currently, our family’s dearest friends are the family of someone I worked with in music ministry at my church. He started as my boss and turned into one of my closest friends and now is my husband’s best friend as well. As we came to know each other through work, our families became close and our kids started to grow together.

What started as being placed together for a common goal turned into a lasting friendship.

Last, but certainly not least, I met my husband through our connections in music education. Fifteen years, two dogs, and three kids later, I wonder how we would have met if it weren’t for music. If we had not been entrenched in the same environment and taken that walk down the same narrow path, how different would it be?

As I think about this season of appreciation and thanksgiving, I include music in my list of things for which I am extremely grateful.


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