Thursday, June 02, 2016

Music Degree and Me or Who Says I'm Not Good Enough?

Guess what my kids enjoy the most during our school time? (I was actually a bit surprised because it isn't something they've been too keen on in the past.) It's music lessons! Well, music practice. Because I'm not giving them lessons --I'm giving them assignments.
"Learn this song. It's okay if it takes you several days. I'll help you if you need help."
That's what I tell them and miraculously, they enjoy practicing! Who knew?! This revelation could change the way I approach teaching music altogether. If I go back to teaching one day --which I'm pretty sure I will.

(In fact, now that I think about it, one of my favorite piano teachers taught me this way. Granted, I was in high school and entering competitions, already taking AP music theory class every year, and I only did scales/chords for warm-up each lesson... but she focused on pieces, not minutes. She focused on broadening my repertoire with pieces I would enjoy, and we went with my pace. I was greatly self-motivated because of the way she taught me. A previous teacher was very demanding and demeaning; I only lasted three months with her!)

We rented a cello for #4 so he can play all summer. He's been at cub scout day camp this week, so his practicing is pretty much nil, but he's excited to play again. I also got out some recorder music (random, I know), and I want the older kids to learn some guitar. I'm going to learn a new piano piece (haven't picked one, yet), and I want to brush up on some music theory.

Vulnerability ahead, please be gentle...

I didn't know why I have been feeling such a push towards music --specifically, musical training. I all but neglected the children's (and my own) talents while we lived in Pennsylvania. I now feel this deep need to put music back in my life in a more permanent way. I haven't taught piano lessons since #5 was a baby (he's almost 7), and I'm not planning on teaching anytime soon (although I have a few student possibilities this Fall), but I had a revelation the other day which kind of explains why I'm feeling this pull. It was after we had dinner with the most musical family in our ward (the father is an organ professor, the mother is about finished with her Master's in piano, and their children, as you can imagine, are all musically talented. Their oldest daughter will be our children's piano and cello teacher).

I'm not sure if the revelation came because we spent time in their home, or if it was because I'm feeling mentally healthy, or if God knew I just needed to be in a more mature place, but whatever the case, I felt inspired to prepare for a Master's degree (emphasis on the word prepare). I always assumed I would get a Master's degree when my children were older. In fact, I've planned on it. My bachelor's degree is in MFHD (marriage, family, and human development), and so I've always naturally assumed I would get a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. It makes sense. The only other thing I had ever wanted to study was music, and I was never good enough for the music program at BYU. I couldn't major in music, and so I only minored. I wasn't good enough to make it my life's work. I tried three times. I bombed my piano audition and failed two vocal auditions. I just wasn't good enough.

And that's the key phrase, dear reader. The thing I have believed for the last 17 years: "I wasn't good enough."

I wasn't good enough? Says who!?

Just because I didn't major in something I'm passionate about doesn't mean I wasn't good enough. The only reason I didn't major in music was because I went to a university with a very difficult audition process and I wasn't selected. I didn't have to go to BYU. In fact, if I hadn't gone to BYU, I would have majored in music! I had been offered a verbal scholarship from another university. I would have majored in music there. And I would have done well.

But God didn't want me there and God didn't want me to major in music. I truly know this --I was supposed to be at BYU and I'm grateful I went, because it was an incredible experience (not to mention that I met my husband there! I would never have known him if I hadn't been at BYU).  I was supposed to do something other than music (and it's not like I never took music classes --I still took lessons, sang in choirs, took a lot of classes for my minor). I used to think it was because music wasn't my path. Music was not for me. I figured God was gently pulling me out of something that I didn't need, and that perhaps it was His way of letting me know I wasn't good enough. I would always be an important part of a church-serving ability, but beyond that... not good enough.

Well, dear reader, now I know two truths:
1. God was, indeed, pulling me out of something that I didn't need --He knew that because of the family I would have, the mental struggles I would fight, and the desires of my heart, I had to lose something for a time in order to have the life I wanted the most.
2. It has never been about my perceived lack of talent! I've always been good enough.

Why did it take me so long to figure this out? I used to think I was above the rejection from the BYU music department, but subconsciously, I've let it keep me from becoming more than I am. I've kept that disappointment too close to my heart and let it define my potential. Not anymore!

So, I went online and found out that our local university offers several Master's degrees in Music. I knew I didn't want a performance/pedagogy master's. I wasn't really even sure what I wanted, to be honest. But then I saw it: Music History. A Master's in Music History? How cool is this!? Writing, Music, and History? All together? My three most favorite subjects of all time? I honestly felt such a surge of excitement at the prospect! Maybe I could truly do this!

So, there you have it. It's not in stone; I'm only in the beginning phases of preparation. I'm thinking about it. Pondering and preparing. It probably won't happen for a few years (because of children, time, finances, etc.), and we may not even still live here several years down the road (but there are many universities!). It will also probably kick my butt. However, I'm not afraid (just a little nervous) of the possibility of going back to school for a music degree.

A music degree! I'm seriously a little giddy at the thought.


Handsfullmom said...

I love your enthusiasm! You would do well at anything.

Amber Peck said...

I'm happy for you, Cheryl. My own education has worked out in a way I never expected and I know it's the way God intended. You are brave and talented and I love you.

Katrina said...

Awesome! What a great perspective, and what a wonderful potential opportunity! I, too, auditioned for the music program (vocal) and was rejected 3 times. That was my only dream. I hope I get some clarity as you have received!