As a Music Therapist, I like to think I have a relatively large skill set.
Resulting from this skill set, there are often questions that arise. The two main examples of these being:
- Why don’t you teach music?
- Why not perform?
Then come the reasons:
- You have such a way with kids.
- People learn music from you when they couldn’t before.
- You have a beautiful voice.
- Weren’t you trained as a singer?
The answer to all of these, while still maintaining my humility is a thank you, and it wasn’t for me.
I’ve struggled with this answer. I was asked it not only by clients, but also by peers, family, and teachers. Over time however, the answer has been clear:
I want my music to have a higher purpose.
I am not in any way discounting the work of teachers and performers. Without either of them, music would be dead in our culture and society. I just found that those paths were not for me.
Music is such a powerful tool in human life. It mimics our cries, it soothes our souls, it speaks for us when words cannot. It opens doors that otherwise would have remained shut. When I saw this power acting in my own life (See How I Found Music Therapy) I knew that it could be used in others lives as well. My music making found a motivation that superseded the barriers that arose and I knew that if I didn’t make music for this purpose, then my music (and I repeat, my music) would have no purpose at all.
And therefore teaching music, while this is a joy I have the pleasure of experiencing, didn’t quite cut it for me. I knew from my own experiences of music education in school, that only a percentage of those taught truly come to love making music. I didn’t want to settle for a percentage.
Performance was never my strong suit. I loved the music I made. I loved singing to the point of tears in lessons when I wasn’t good enough. I practiced long hours to sing on a stage in front of my peers, but my heart was never in it. The applause seemed too shallow, too superficial. I didn’t want to be praised for my performance, I wanted to move people. I wanted to move people from point A to point B.
Music Therapy gave me that opportunity. Through it’s mix of music, science, and therapy, I am able to continuously document and observe the effect my music has on others. Not only that, but I am able to share my music. It is never just me singing a song. I am joined by those I service, either with their voices, their instrument playing, or the churning of their brains as they hear, process, and grow.
This, to me, has always been true beauty.