Singing Sarah: The Origin Story
Updated: Jun 21
Eventually I want this blog to be a place where I can share ideas for other professionals, but I thought a couple introductory posts would be helpful to anyone new who comes along and wonders who I am. So here goes...
I always love learning about the “why” in people’s lives. You never know what circumstances, people, passions, mistakes, etc. lead someone to where they are. So with this first blog post, I thought I would start with my why. Why did I become a music therapist?
Prior to middle school, music was something that happened in the car as we traveled across the state each summer to visit grandparents or at church on Sundays. (See the Spotify playlist to a get an idea of our car ride soundtrack!) My sister took piano lessons, but it never stuck for me. But my cousins who I esteemed as the definition of cool played flute, and that inspired me to give it a try in 6th grade. I remember during the meeting where the director tells you what instrument would be the best fit, he said something about my lip structure not being good for playing flute. I proceeded to bite my lip and make it the right structure because no one was going to tell me "no" to the flute.
I absolutely loved playing the flute and worked HARD to be good at it. I briefly had delusions that I could be a flutist for a profession. Nothing like a solo & ensemble competition in a big city like Houston to humble a flute player. Soooooo many people. And SO.MUCH.TALENT. I was good but not THAT good. As I’m getting closer to having to make choices about college, I worry because I know I want to major in something related to music, but I don’t want to be a band director and honestly it never occurred to me to be an elementary music teacher. My junior high band director at some point said something about music therapy, and I didn’t really know or understand what that is, but it sounded cool anyway.
Junior year I was first chair of the band, and we are playing this beautiful piece called “Elegy” that was dedicated to the memory of the composer’s father. It starts with a flute solo. Over the Easter weekend, a student who had become a friend of mine in my typing class, Chris, was in a horrible car accident. After a few days, he died. I had grandparents die in the past but not a peer. Nothing like that. I remember flashes from his funeral and the overwhelming grief that was such a foreign experience for me. I didn’t know what to do. But then we performed Elegy, and it became my elegy for Chris. My way to use music to express that for which I literally had no words. I was not healed, but my heart found peace in a way I had never experienced with music before. I loved performing but this was different; it was not about the music at all. It was about how the music helped me. That’s when I knew I needed to be a music therapist, whatever that meant.
As I wrote this blog post, a memory that I had buried popped into my head. I remembered that I had submitted a poem about this experience to my high school’s yearly poetry/art compilation. I was nervous to see it and am even more nervous to share it. It’s really emotional reading what high school me wrote. I love that I corrected the mistakes, including the spelling of my name. It’s so me.
A few thanks as I close this out. To my sister for helping me curate the Spotify playlist; to Mr. Burrer for telling me about music therapy; to Naima for remembering the name of the publication; finally to my mom for finding the poetry book and sending me my entry.