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Our experiences and beliefs shape us into who we are. I was lucky enough to have music and amazing music teachers around me from an early age. Their expertise and passion to share their love of music have had a serious impact on my life. These teachers are part of the reason why I want to teach and incorporate the power of music into my classroom too!

My elementary school was determined to offer the arts to every student, I know this isn’t something provided in every public school and I am extremely fortunate it was something I could take advantage of. Everyone thought our music teacher was a little crazy; honestly, she was unorthodox but her ability to teach music was unmatched and her heart was undeniably in the right place. She not only taught music class to over 600 students during the day but also ran the general chorus, as well as select chorus after school. Most of the singing skills I developed were a direct result of her teaching. There was another teacher who was passionate about theatre and directed phenomenal school plays. Learning to sing, dance, act, and perform are skills that translate to so many other aspects of life. I stopped participating in theatre in high school, but the memories from those rehearsals and performances are irreplaceable. They helped me gain an appreciation for the industry of musical theatre, from belting “Defying Gravity” in my bedroom to learning most of the Hamilton script. These songs and the emotions they portray have carried me through both my saddest and happiest moments. 

Although I wasn’t involved in musical theatre in high school, I was able to continue singing through sports. Sophomore year of high school I sang the National Anthem at a soccer game; most of my friends had never heard me sing before and were extremely kind after the performance. This encouraged me to continue singing at soccer games, and then I started singing at most of my high school sporting events. This opportunity allowed me to express my love of singing in a setting that I was comfortable in. Junior year of high school, I auditioned for The Voice. This is a fun fact most people do not know about me! I didn’t make it past the first round but it was a very cool experience. All of the other participants were super friendly and supportive, plus it was incredible to hear them sing. I had idolized contestants Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradberry, along with Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood who were on American Idol. Although it didn’t work out for me, it definitely pushed me outside of my comfort zone and will always be a fun memory. 

Now at UMass Amherst, music continues to be a prominent aspect of my interests and hobbies. I’ve recently begun working as a spin instructor at Campus Recreation, which is a workout completely designed around the beat of the music. The energy in these classes is so energizing and empowering, largely thanks to the songs blasting through the speakers. Especially during a stressful week or a sad day, spin can be an instant mood booster. Being able to use music to help people exercise in a positive way has been extremely rewarding thus far

Music has been a huge part of my life and I fully believe in the power of music. Whether it’s the soundtrack you blast in the car when you’re sad, the jingle you’ve memorized to study for a test, or the song you play as you walk down the aisle, music is incorporated into our best and worst moments. Embrace it and appreciate it!

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Jessica Shay

U Mass Amherst '23

Jessica Shay is a junior at UMass Amherst and this is her third semester writing for HerCampus. She loves working with kids and plans to become a teacher. When she's not in class, you can find her reading, baking, or teaching spin classes at the Rec Center.
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