So I’m standing on a carpet in four inch heels, in front of a microphone, crammed next to an insanely talented guitarist and a legend of a drummer, multicolored lights beaming in our faces, and a man in a Belmont University sweatshirt is delineating Stevie Wonder’s intuitive musical skills to us and the other seven people on stage. A question hits me out of nowhere: “….Where the heck am I?”
Contemporary Music Center doesn’t change you. It digs up the parts of you that you didn’t even know were there. It’s more than a music school or a shop you walk past on your way to Foster’s; it’s a warp in the world where a kid walks in as a pianist and comes out as an artist. Two years ago, I walked in looking to get better at a hobby. And now, every time I leave I’m pretty much in a sonic daze. Music has made me a better person, but that’s only the case because I had to allow it to affect me. It’s a vulnerable experience, being involved in things like Rock Camp at @4410– but it’s the first place I ever received real, constructive musical criticism that was more than just technical adjustments; the whole process just re-framed my mind. I had to stop and ask, not just “what does this song mean to me” but really, “how do I tell this story so that others can feel what I feel”. That’s what, I think, an artists duty is, and that’s what I get from CMC.
I used to take music lessons before CMC, and I dreaded them. I stopped when I was around 10, and didn’t touch an instrument until over four years later while recovering from a hospitalization. I needed I therapeutic hobby, and I wanted to play guitar and write music- that was pretty much the one thing in life I was sure of, even though I was still hesitant to actually taking lessons. After first meeting Mike Harrington, my guitar teacher, I realized how much I wanted them. Every Wednesday no matter how I’m doing, I enter his tiny little lesson room and feel completely at home. The same goes for my voice lessons with Pat Howell- and, to be honest, lessons aren’t the only times I learn.
Earlier this year I was part of a Motown Review band, led by the amazing Anne Albright and Menzie Pittman. I can easily say that those thirteen weeks were the funnest, hardest, most enriching and most authentic weeks I’ve spent as a musician. I benefited so much from that experience and from being around people that truly knew the definition of Soul. As a teenager, being treated like an adult by an adult musician can be scary. It’s like being a little-league athlete playing by major-league rules; it’s overwhelming and complex, but the coaches have such a tremendous amount of respect and faith in you that you find yourself making plays you didn’t even know you could make.
CMC is developing a new kind of student, an individual that wants to feel, write, perform, and excel. They’re igniting a mindset in kids that pulls from passion and directs them down a road so that they can make their own path someday. They push us to our talent levels, they want us to succeed- whether that’s in a recital performance, learning how to work with members in a band, or a Berklee audition. So when I have moments where I ask, “Where am I?”
I know that I am where I’m meant to be.