My Musical Background

I started singing a long time ago. Back at an age when everyone could sing, and they did so without pretence or self-consciousness. The major difference between myself and so many others, really, was my refusal to change my mindset about my voice. I refused to start believing that I couldn't sing, which seemed to be a mass phenomenon by the time everyone turned about 12.

My instruments are detailed elsewhere, so instead I'll explain why it is that I still sing, and why I apparently have also morphed into a songwriter, despite my best efforts.

The Stage

The first time I ever sung a solo on stage, it really opened a door for me. It was an incredible, heady experience even for an eight-year-old. I sang a full solo, as an individual act in a talent show. And the result was that the audience loved me, I loved having an audience, and an addiction was born.

It's an odd experience, actually. I was always embarassed to try to describe it in past years, but I've recently read others' descriptions of a similar feeling associated with singing, and so I'm not quite as shy about it, but it still sounds weird. And here it is: I feel as though I'm not actually in control of myself when I'm on stage. It's as though I'm watching myself sing and perform, and there's an incredible mental splitting in my head. You'd think that would take away from the experience, but it adds to it somehow. I imagine it is similar to psychedelic experiences that people talk about, and it's something that I really enjoy experiencing.

Also, if I'm to be completely honest, applause and compliments are a big reason I continue to sing. :)

Musical Academia

I obviously was exposed to music throughout my primary and middle-school years; everyone was. But all throughout highschool I continued with any and all music classes I could take. And at my high school, that was a lot. I took 5 instrumental courses (one for each year, 9 to 13) and then a vocal music course, and also a musical theatre course (which, to be honest, wasn't that great, but it was a pilot course and in its first year of implementation, so we'll give it the benefit of the doubt). During those years I also took private lessons on the folk harp, and participated in a myriad of choirs, quartets, instrumental ensembles, and every type of musical performance I could worm my way into.

The theory that I learned in those same courses was invaluable. I didn't know it at the time, but what I learned about scales, triads and chord progression would be all the push that I needed to end up composing the music that consumes my waking (and, in a couple of cases, dreaming) thoughts all the time now. And all this was just high school!

University was a bit of a disappointment for me, musically, at first. I wasn't in a music program, of course, having chosen to pursue the microscope and petri dish as my daily bread-and-butter, but I still did my best to remain in the music scene. I took an elective that dealt with music theory, and despite having to get a signature to allow me to skip the prerequisites for the class, (which would imply that this class wasn't the very bottom of the pile, academically speaking), I learned nothing. I was told by the professor, after sharing an overview of what I knew of music with her, that I wouldn't be seeing anything new until the third installment of the course (which was a third-year class). I completed the course, but I was pretty bored with it.

I joined the school choir that year and had the same disappointment. The choir itself consisted of very talented, skilled singers. The problem lay in the director -- unfortunately, she didn't focus on polishing anything, and the final product ended up being mediocre music that was quite frustrating to be part of. So I dropped that particular extracurricular rather soon into my second semester.

On the other side of the coin was the community band that I joined at the same time. Most people read "community band" and think "mediocre grouping of people who play the theme from MASH", and they'd generally be right. But not in this case.

The Guelph Community Band was an incredible group of people, led by an incredible director, and we played incredible music. We played Overture to Candide, Bacchanale, Lord of the Rings symphony by Johan de Meij (this was at my request...*cough*) and others of that calibre. These are by no means easy or mediocre pieces, people. Ah yes, the full Rhapsody in Blue was another one. Anyway, the point is, we were far from your standard community band. FAR from it. And it was a much needed musical outlet for the duration of my university career.

I tried another musical elective in my final year, and was pleasantly surprised. I took Melody and Counterpoint, and its theory has once again added to my musical knowledge bank in a way that will enrich my music forevermore. I highly suggest to any songwriters out there to take a class on counterpoint. It's SO useful.

Anyway, university ended over 2 years ago, and in those years I got myself a guitar and started taking lessons. In addition to that, I also finally started vocal lessons. I happen to have an interesting comparison available to me -- I have a recording of a particular song pre-university (and, of course, pre vocal-lessons) and a recording of the same song now, after about 1 year and a half of vocal training. I am astonished at the difference. (And no, I won't be sharing the "before" version.)

Hopefully this won't be an afterthought-paragraph in the near future, but I've also started to record music. I've finished certain songs, and started others, and found a recording studio and producer. Ideally, by the time I post this updated page I'll have the first one available for download here.