For as long as I can remember, my dad has practiced his trumpet at very late hours of the night. Sometimes, he practices as late as 2am (thankfully, with a mute). As I have always had sleeping problems, I often remember listening to my dad’s trumpet playing until I would finally drift off to sleep. On the nights that I wasn’t able to fall asleep, I could always count on him to still be downstairs practicing, ready to comfort me until I was tired enough to go back to bed.
Growing up, I didn’t think much about the fact that I lived in a family full of musicians. My parents met as music performance majors in college, my dad on trumpet and my mom on piano. Each of my three brothers played guitar as well as other instruments. My oldest brother led worship with his guitar on the weekends and played French Horn in the orchestra on weekdays. My second oldest brother played drums and guitar in a heavy metal band. My younger brother played the guitar and also became a worship leader as he got older. It was rare that music wasn’t playing in the background somewhere in the house: piano, trumpet, guitar, or a heavy metal CD.
I’ve played the oboe from the time I was 12, but I never thought that I would choose a career in music. I’ve never seen myself as a performer, but I’ve also never seen myself teaching music in a classroom. I loved playing the oboe as an outlet, but I thought that music would always just be a hobby for me. Due to my love for numbers and the promising career field, I decided to major in accounting when I applied for colleges.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the summer of 2012 was a summer that would change the course of my life completely. This was the summer right before I started my freshman year of college. My grandmother was very sick and had moved in with my family. She had dementia and no longer knew who I was, who my brothers were, who my parents were…or even who she was. However, I noticed that she usually seemed to remember me when I played my oboe. This, sadly, was the summer before my grandmother passed away.
When I heard about the field of music therapy from a friend about a year later, I was intrigued by the connection of music and the mind. I recalled what I had noticed about my grandmother when she was alive and realized that something about playing the oboe helped her remember me. After completing two years of an accounting degree in Florida, I made the decision to move to South Carolina to major in music therapy.
Throughout my coursework and internship in music therapy, I have frequently been reminded of the importance of that summer. At the time, I had no idea that I would in fact end up majoring in music, or that my grandmother living with us during her last months of life would impact the rest of my future. As I approach my final month of internship, I can’t help but be thankful for this surprising change in course. Because of this change, I now know that I don’t have to perform or teach to use music in my career. I am completing a degree in a field that allows me to use music to help others reach their goals (or in some cases, be reminded of something like my grandmother was reminded of me). Though there have been plenty of ups and downs throughout this journey, I wouldn’t have it any other way and am grateful to have ended up where I am today.
If you would like more information about the music therapy internship at STAR Center, contact Chrissy Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org.