Music has always been a big part of my family. I grew up listening to my grandparents sing in the church choir and when I got old enough I started singing too. In high school my cousins and I were all in band together, which usually lead to trouble and interesting band trips. Most of my aunts and uncles sang or played an instrument or two also. So, I was always surrounded by music and music makers. I was the only brave enough (or stupid enough, depending on how you want to look at it) to make music my career choice.
There are times that I get frustrated with music and all of the hassles that come with having a performance based career. However, there is a lot of joy that comes along with it too. One of the things that keeps me coming back to teaching piano is watching students struggle with pieces, start to understand the piece, and then grow from the experience. It doesn’t matter their age, young kids or adults, I love watching them work on a piece and then hitting that moment when they realize that they can play something they enjoy. All that hard work they’ve been putting in finally paying off. I also love that moment of realization that student get when they finally understand a concept that they’ve been working on for a while. That moment when it clicks and you can see it in their eyes is so satisfying and it reminds me why I teach.
In the composition side of my career, it’s a little different. There are several things I love about composing. For me composing is like working on a puzzle and I have to figure out how all the parts are going to fit together. The process itself is satisfying, but hearing from other people is gratifying too. I always feel a little vulnerable when I present a composition for public review. In many ways it’s like raising a child. You, put all this time and effort into crafting a piece that you think is perfect in every way and then you have to let it go to see what it can do on its own. Will it get criticized? Did I give enough attention to make it the best it can be? Did I put enough of myself in it to make it awesome? These are several of the questions that run through my mind when a performance happens. It can be nerve wracking at times, but hearing a piece played that people enjoy and react to positively is an amazing feeling.
Music has its ups and downs like all career paths, but I don’t know if I could do anything else.
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Jeremiah is a composer and piano teacher in Oklahoma City Area.