Drop the Mic: Life Lessons from a Lifelong Musician

There has never been a time in my life that didn’t involve music.

As a toddler, I would sing every Disney princess song at full volume no matter where I was. In elementary school and middle school, I started learning piano, was in multiple school choruses and began performing theatrically. In high school, I continued participating in choruses, doing my school’s musicals and I joined a band.

I’ve sung classical and rock music, written my own songs and performed in local venues. My musical journey has been all over the place to say the least; but I don’t say that negatively. Being a musician and performer has not only taught me about music itself but also about my personal identity. Sure, everything comes with its trials, yet I’ve come out of every musical experience I’ve had with more than a sore throat and rush of adrenaline — I gain a new understanding of my life and what makes it so special.

Here are five things I’ve learned from my musical endeavors:

1. Confidence is key.

When I first joined my band, I was the least confident version of myself I can remember. I was a sophomore in high school, extremely awkward with meeting new people and was not sure if I was capable of performing in such a vibrant setting. Granted, I am an actress as well and should be used to these sorts of things, yet there is a difference: when I’m acting, I don’t look at people in the audience unless I am instructed to do so — I stare at the furthest wall in the room. When I’m with my band, however, I’m almost forced to interact with the audience and my bandmates. It took me a while to adjust to this change, but once I accepted it, my confidence skyrocketed.

2. Without communication, your goal is unachievable.

I didn’t fully acknowledge this concept until I was in high school. In one of my choirs, we sang a capella and had to depend on each other to know when to come in, when to breath and when to cut off. In a band, the drummer usually cues when the song will begin. Communication, in all of these respects, is crucial to the future of the performance. I understand that communication is not always easy; I myself struggle to talk to people about how I feel. However, as I worked on my communication skills in high school and college, I realized that I was already growing in this regard — and it was paying off. I was meeting new people, achieving goals that I had set for myself long ago and getting more comfortable in my own skin.

3. Be patient.  

I admit, I am the most impatient person I know. I like to get things done as soon as possible and see the turnout just as quickly; despite this, I understand that this isn’t how the world works. Everything takes time. Whether it’s maneuvering a difficult part of a song or singing a specific riff precisely, rarely do these feats succeed on the first try. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the projects that take the most time that impact you the greatest. Don’t worry about how long it takes to get what you want — just focus on what you need to do to achieve it and let that motivate you.

4. Work hard, see the results.

This lesson connects with the former and is both self explanatory and universal. You can’t get an A in a class without doing the assignments. You can’t score a goal without practicing on the field. You can’t master a song without going over it on your own time. Doing anything, even doing what you love, requires dedication and perseverance — you need to give yourself to these things before they can give back to you.

5. Have fun and live in the moment.

This is the most cliche piece of advice in the book, but to me, it’s the most important. Often, people do not realize how exciting their lives are because they drown themselves in the negatives and stick only to their daily routine. As a performer, it’s super important to put your personality into the performance. How you feel radiates outward to the audience — if you’re having a good time onstage, the audience will feed off of your energy and have a good time, too. When you find the joy and excitement in even the smallest of things, you’ll feel that impact yourself.

Friedrich Nietzsche once said that “without music, life would be a mistake.” In my personal experience, I agree. Music has taught me more about life and myself than anything else — and if you allow it, it can change yours, too.