In honor of International Women’s Day, I am reflecting on the women in my life who have guided me through musical journey.
First and foremost is my mother. Whenever I tell people that I am a musician, they’ll say something like “I used to play piano but I hated practicing and quit. I wish I had kept going!” To that I say, “me too!” I wanted to quit basically every single day when I was in middle school. If it wasn’t for my mom forcing me to practice, I definitely would have quit. She drove me to all of my lessons and rehearsals, paid for instruments, summer camps, and private lessons, and she had to endure ten years of hearing me squeak away on violin and viola. My dad was also instrumental (ha) in my musical development, but it’s International Women’s Day so the man can wait.
Two out of the three main viola teachers in my life have been women. Thanks to them, I have glowing examples of what it looks like to be a professional woman in music. Through their guidance and cautionary tales, I have become a strong musician and an ally to other women and girls in the industry. With their help I have been able to heal the injuries I sustained from playing. I have always had the freedom to show emotion during my lessons, and even cry if I had to. Learning to play an instrument puts you in a vulnerable position and some days you can’t just leave your feelings at the door. I am forever grateful for their patience and skill.
My best friends are female musicians. We didn’t all become friends in the same place– some at music camp, some at music school, some in high school. We’re spread out across the globe. Each one has played music with me. Each one has provided me with moral support after a bad audition or in the midst of an identity crisis. Every day I feel like I’m talking with one of them about the screwed-up climate of the music world: what we want to change and how we’ll change it. We also help eachother forget about music when things get too tough; remind ourselves of the value in living a balanced life. They inspire me to be a better musician and person, and I wouldn’t be myself without them.