Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

I recently started reading a blog written by San Diego Momma. On Tuesdays, she puts out a writing suggestion. Every time I see it, I think to myself, "Self, you should do this." And every Tuesday, something comes up, and I never get around to it.

This week, I decided to go for it. Granted, it's not's actually Wednesday. But, better late than never - right????

PROMPTuesday: Decisions, decisions.
What major decision(s) have you made in your life? What road did you take that led to something unexpected, or wonderful or not-so-wonderful-but-it-all-worked-out-in-the-end?


I've always been surrounded by music in one form or another. I think we all are, to some degree. I remember being ripped (I mean, peacefully brought out of a deep sleep) on Sunday mornings by the sounds a country music station turned up loud enough to rattle windows.

OK, maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration...but not much! It was my dad's way of getting us up, and going. Country music in the morning = house cleaning day. (sigh)

To this day, I can't handle music in the morning. If I need to get something done around the house on the weekend, I first go to the radio. It's like the Mr. Clean version of Pavlov's Dog. :-)

In junior high I started playing a musical instrument. Clarinet. My mom played it...her two sisters played it....and I figured I may as well give it a try as well. My aunt used to play The Entertainer on the piano. How cool would it be to do it on an actual clarinet, right??? :-)

When I hit high school...I started learning how to play any other woodwind instrument I could get my hands on. I wanted to learn them all. I would go to instrumental music competitions and actually need a group of people to help me carry all the different instruments I was competing with.

In high school, the music department started doing a concert each year. The performers were the students who were getting ready for district music competitions. One year, I had strep throat, and they had to cancel the concert. It seems I had so many different entries (both vocal and instrumental) that if I wasn't there, there wasn't much of a concert left.

I couldn't get enough.

My first real boyfriend had a great singing voice...and played the drums in a band. He tried and tried to get me to either sing in the band, or play an instrument. But there's no way shy ole' Nej was going to do that!! Someone might hear her!! Someone she knew.

The horror!!!! :-)

Come to think of it, my next boyfriend had quite the singing voice as well...and played the trumpet and piano. It's not that I seek out guys that can's just the group of people I hung with in high school. :-)

(Mot swears he can't carry a tune, but he's lying.)

I sang in any of the choruses offered in high school...and also auditioned for the show choir. I had (still have) a really low vocal range, so I sang in some choirs as a tenor or baritone.

I eventually settled on the E Flat soprano clarinet as my principle instrument. Man that thing was fun to play!!!

My junior year of high school got really busy. I played in a marching band in the Fiesta Bowl parade. I auditioned, and made it, to All-State. I competed in more and more competitions. And, it was then I started looking for colleges. I set up scholarship auditions...the works.

My instrumental music director was pretty burnt out in his career by the time I got to high school. Although I firmly believe you, and only you, are responsible for the choices you make in life....I still say he played a VERY LARGE role in my making what I would call the silliest decision I've ever made in life.

After going to scholarship auditions, being accepted, winning competitions..........I decided to not pursue a career in music.

Why you ask??

I remember the instant I made the choice. One day he was pretty stressed about an upcoming performance (if you were the director of our high school band, you'd be stressed to....there were quite a few good members in the band...but as a whole, we sucked).

I was in one of the practice rooms, and I heard him venting outside to another teacher. Mad that he loved music soooo much...but making music his career completely ruined it for him. He talked about how he didn't love it fact, he could barely stand it. He talked about how he wished he could tell his students who wanted to go into music to not do it. Run!!

I could hear the despair and frustration in his voice. And it was at the exact moment, I stopped wanting to go to school for music.

In fact, after high school....I took a year off. I'd been planning on music as my career for years and years. After I'd ruled it out, I had NO IDEA what I was going to do with my life.

Heck, even after going to school for accounting and getting my degree...I still don't know what I want to do with my life. :-)

My life turned out great, without music as a career. But I always wonder what it would have been like, had I not heard him complaining in the hall.


Employee No. 3699 said...

Wow, that's a shame that you had to overhear his conversation, especially at a young age. As an adult you may have questioned him about it and just found out he was having a bad day. It's amazing how the smallest things can have such a big impact on our lives.

The most important thing is that you're happy, and who's to say that you couldn't still do something with music.

When I was younger I wanted to be an interior designer. I went to design school for one semester, and was actually on the Dean's List. Then, before the next semester started my ex and I split up. My parents offered to loan me the money for my tuition, but I declined. I had two young children, no job, no work experience and as it turned out, no child support. There was no way I wanted to be in debt to them for all that money.

It was a 'decision' that I made over 19 years ago.

g said...

You know, that's an interesting thing. And interesting that you were exposed to this internal conflict artists have to deal with.

I worked in theatre - studied it in school, struggled and starved and tried to make a go of it. Well, I did end up making a go of it, for 20 years, but at the cost of becoming jaded and seeing it all as just a way of making a living. I worked at the highest level of professional theatre in the US, and loved it, but yet viewed it with cynicism at the same time.

My son as a HS student went to summer music institute at Berklee School of Music to find out if he wanted to follow a path of professional music - and he decided not to. "Factory" is how he described Berklee - good for those who wanted to do that, but a turn-off for him, who wanted a more rounded, complex education.

It's a funny thing. In this world, it's almost as if we can't love an art if we're to be a professional.

Yet OTOH, I cannot bear to be around amateur theatrical folks, their naivete and ignorance totally turns me off.

do you still play? The thing about music - unlike theatre, which is a collaborative art - is that you can do it in your living room, or alone, and still find the thing that drew you in.

I hope you still do play. I am trying to find the same joy I had in theatre by writing about it, remembering it.

San Diego Momma said...

Oh NO!!!

I hate that someone else's doubt and frustration deterred you from a career in music.

But, I also believe everything happens for a reason.

In addition, "It's like the Mr. Clean version of Pavlov's Dog."


(Glad you participated this week!) :)

mo.stoneskin said...

I think we all know that at one point soon Mot will burst forth into song. He's almost certainly a falsetto.

Joanie said...

I so hear you. I mean, every word resonates for me. But what a shame to have your dreams dashed like that.

I hope that music still brings you peace, joy, and much comfort.

Nej said...

@ Emp #3699, when I think back about it now, I get mad at myself for listening to what he said...without asking questions. Asking for second opinions. It amazes me how impressionable young minds really are. :-)

@ g, welcome and thanks for reading! I have gotten more and more involved in vocal music in the last 6 or 7 years. (if anything, it's less luggage to carry around for performances) :-)

Haven't touched a clarinet for ages. It's sad really. I see it at home and think about getting it out...but usually hubby is home. I think I need to practice up a little before I let him hear me. :-)

@ San Diego Momma, I'm with you. I think everything happens for a reason as well. I wouldn't have done the things, experienced the things and learned the things I've learned if I'd taken that path. I may or may not have enjoyed it...but it's in the past. And as they say, no use crying over spilled milk. :-)

@ mo, every once and a while he'll start singing along with the radio in the car. When he catches himself, he purposefully sings cover up the fact that he can, indeed, carry a tune. He'll never admit it!!!

@ Joanie, thank you! It's always a little bitter sweet talking about it, and writing about it hit home just that little bit more. I keep thinking of all the things I've done and seen since then, and it makes it easy to handle. :-)

Anonymous said...

I do not sing silly, I sing to make you smile and singing .. umm... unusually tends to do it, besides I sound like a braying yak that's been in one to many bars over the years.
ANYWAY, we only need one musically gifted person and thats YOU missy

love ya mot

Nej said...

A braying yak?