I was blessed to have parents who responded to 6-year-old me begging for a piano, even though they had to borrow money to obtain one at that time. Followed by years of piano lessons and a mom who lived in her car to get me where I wanted to go.
I was blessed to have a grandfather who owned several instruments and sat next to 10-year-old me on the bench to play Mozart for four hands, even as I stumbled across the ribbons of notes.
At 11, I remember being in a movie theater with my dad waiting to see whatever movie it was, when a flashy Chopin etude came on as background music. I remember him telling me, “Some day you could do that if you want.” And me looking wide-eyed incredulous. “Really? No way.” I was wrong.
My journey with piano took me to win city and state competitions in my teens and peaked with a single year in a music conservatory where I was surrounded by people making many forms of music, jazz, classical, and soaking in sounds of countless visiting artists.
At 18, I made a choice to leave the intensity of music performance career, living alone inside a 4 x 4 practice room 8 hours a day, and no time for anything other than music in life behind. But I learned to deeply appreciate and understand music and am forever grateful for being gifted that lifelong thread.
Now my own young person is working hard, arriving at school an hour before the school day, participating in music education and competition inside a group rather than the solo path I had. I am recognizing the power of music education to foster many traits that carry through the rest of life, no matter if a career in music is the result.
It is with many emotions: Pride, love, excitement, remembrance, gratitude for village effort to pay for her lessons and instrument, that I am thrilled to support the jazz band at my daughter’s school and the opportunities these 18 young people are earning for themselves. If you feel so moved, please take a look at supporting their current adventure.
Note: In case it is confusing, I will continue my Jazz Hats as an ongoing fundraiser for music education beyond Monterey. Any monies from my own Jazz Hats will go toward the South Whidbey High School Performing Arts nonprofit, but because I do not have access to the nonprofit’s account, I cannot set up my own fundraising as a charity.