This month’s Musician’s Musings was written by substitute second violinist and BSO Board Member, Jenna Loeppke. Jenna brings a great deal of enthusiasm and passion to the BSO and we are grateful for the wisdom she is sharing with our audience through this post!
5 Ways Music Has Changed My Life
I’ve been playing my violin since I was six years old and playing piano since second grade, flute since fifth grade, and singing since seventh grade. But within all of my musical training, my mom worked hardest to make sure I would play the violin. She always dreamed of playing it herself but when her orchestra teacher chose her to play the viola instead, she thought she’d had no choice.
And during my early teen years, whenever my mom would sit down at the piano and decide it was time for me to practice, I also thought I’d had “no choice.” It wasn’t the playing that bothered me. I loved hearing the notes sing out of my instrument when I drew my bow across the strings. It was the incessant rehearsal of difficult passages and techniques my teacher and my own mother were forcing on me. I remember feeling as if I was locked in some sort of torturous prison.
Looking back, I’m so thankful that I never let myself quit playing music. That’s not to say that my mother hadn’t threatened to call my teachers and cancel all of my lessons if I’d refused to pick up my instrument. Many tears were shed and tantrums thrown in our family room next to our upright piano. But at least I wasn’t as bad as my friend who used to throw her violin in the trash just to spite her mother. And just to prove that music can turn around even the most difficult child: this friend of mine is now training to be a professional opera singer.
I’ve come to love the music that was engrained in me for so many reasons. But to encourage you or your children to continue playing or learning music, here are my top five reasons for sticking with it:
1) Music has allowed me to build strong connections with others
Over the years, I’ve met people in school, in my neighborhood, at church, and in sports. Sure, these are all wonderful places to make friends but I can honestly say that my fondest memories come from the times I shared with fellow musicians. From childhood group lessons to Minnesota All-State Orchestra to joining a Community Orchestra in France, these are memories and people I will cherish forever. Music is a powerful tool that can be used to create lasting bonds that conquer over barriers like languages, age groups, and differences in personality.
2) Music teaches discipline
Sometimes I think the only reason I was able to make it through some of my college classes or crazy schedules as a teen and young adult is because I had the discipline to push through the insanity. Self-restraint is something that most people don’t naturally possess. Generally, it needs to be practiced – a lot.
Music, and specifically the violin, has brought stability and structure to my life. That stability has helped me make small, daily decisions and important life choices too. It has led me to achieve things I never thought I could accomplish. I truly know that things don’t come easily – something I found while trying to tune the chords Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004: III. Sarabande. Life is tough; it’s best to have the discipline to make the most of it.
3) Music forced me out of my comfort zone
Music made me uncomfortable in the following ways: competition, taking criticism (sometimes in front of large groups of people), performing, and meeting new people. Most everyone can understand why these situations aren’t always comfortable for a six year old or even an 18 year old. But now, every time I am faced with a new, uncomfortable situation, I have the tools to help me get through it.
4) Music took me to Europe
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with Europe. I’d dream of the castles I’d see and the history I’d uncover in my travels across the many countries. My chance to go there finally came when I was in high school and I joined the program, Minnesota Ambassadors of Music.
So far, that expedition has sparked three more trips to Europe and two study abroad experiences. When I was a senior in college, I spent my last semester in Pau, France where I met many new friends in the community orchestra I’d joined, L’Orchestre Symphonique du Sud-Ouest. These French musicians remain very special friends to me, even though they live thousands of miles away.
5) Music inspires me
Finally, there isn’t anything that inspires me more than a piece of music. Sometimes, it’s a piece that we’re playing in symphony and sometimes it’s something I heard by accident on a drive home. It inspires me at my job, in my personal life, and even in my musical life, encouraging me to be my best self and to produce my best work.
Music has been an integral part of my personal growth and I am forever grateful to my mom who knew the impact it could have in my life. Though dedication to music hasn’t always been easy, I know it has the power to bring out the best in me and in the lives of others.