What compels us?

What is it that compels some of us to pick up an instrument when we’re young, and never put it down?

I find myself wondering if the path I’ve taken as a musician is something I’ve done just out of habit? Out of familiarity? When I was seven, I wanted to be an author. Before that, I wanted to be a vet. Yet on the first day of 3rd grade, I walked into music class and the teacher handed me a recorder. A bunch of time went by and I remember playing a recorder duet with my best friend on stage in the cafeteria. Ode to Joy (shocked?). That’s my first musical memory.

What’s yours?


  1. I began taking piano lessons when I was seven and began singing a few years before that. It was, however, the first day of sixth grade that I remember most vividly. I had just moved to the South and was to attend the local middle school. About ten minutes into our first music class, both the teacher and I had a rather startling revelation: I was only one of two people in the class who could read music. One of TWO. The other student was being trained as a concert pianist.

    It was on that day that I first connected music education with access and privilege. While I had never wanted to become a concert musician–I was more interested in graphic design at the time–I always knew the opportunity was there; I just had to apply myself. Most of these students never had that opportunity. Most of them never even knew what opportunities were “out there”. Perhaps some of them went on to become talented musicians. I don’t know; I soon moved away and lost touch. What I do know is that by quietly showing me my privilege, these sixth-grade students taught me a lesson in appreciation that I will never forget.

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