My mom says that music saved my life. That's a pretty bold statement, and one that she doesn't make lightly.
I have always loved music. I grew up listening to older siblings practicing the violin and piano everyday. It wasn’t long before I knew I wanted to play the violin, too. I started Suzuki violin lessons at four years old, and fell in love with being able to create beautiful sounds and enjoyed being the center of attention during performances.
When I was in elementary school, I had a hard time remembering information. I couldn't remember things ranging from details in books I would read, to what I had spent all day learning about at school. It was more than just the flighty memory of a day-dreaming child. I truly could NOT remember anything and didn't understand why my mom and teachers would get so frustrated with me all of the time.
My mom reminds me of one time in particular when she was reading to me out of one of my favorite books, Junie B Jones. We got to the end of the page and she laughed at Junie's latest shenanigans and I just sat there, confused. My mom asked me if I thought it was funny, but I didn’t know what she was talking about. I didn’t understand. We read the page again. The same thing happened - my mom laughed and I wasn't able to remember enough of the story line (from the page before) to know why what we were reading was funny.
It made school very hard.
It wasn’t until I was in fourth grade that it was decided I should be tested for some learning disabilities. The tests results were alarming. They revealed that I did, in fact, show no indication of having any ability for short term or long term memory recall. None. The test administrator said it was a miracle I remembered my own name.
Not having a memory also made learning the violin difficult as well. Learning how to count music felt near impossible. There were plenty of times after I had learned a song that I would completely forget where I was or even what song I was playing - it was like a switch would turn off and I couldn't remember anything.
As difficult as it was, learning the violin at such a young age was the best thing I could have done. I was constantly exercising my brain in ways that were crucial for me to survive in life - countless repetitions of counting helped me with math, drilling the sight reading in music helped me with reading books, focusing on my violin technique and posture helped me with my mind and body connection, playing with other students and my teacher each week taught me interpersonal skills. I needed more than most elementary school children. My brain needed more help. School was not enough for me. If I had not had the extra training, the extra repetitions that were provided to me through music, I would not have made it.
I was told time and time again that there was no way I would graduate high school, let alone go to college. Yet, because I had music in my life from a young age, I went from not being able to understand what had happened two sentences before in a book, to memorizing nine page concertos. I went from constantly forgetting basic concepts and skills, to becoming a college graduate and teacher myself.
I am so grateful for how much music has been a blessing in my life and how the skills I was learning through music were also helping me in school. Because I have seen the true value in music, I want to help others feel the same. Even if it is just one child.