What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you plan to do after high school? Where do you see yourself in five years? What are you going to do after graduation? There are people who know what they want to pursue when they're young, and then there are those who take a while to decide or are still figuring it all out. For me I couldn't decide until end of high school, and to be honest at times I wasn't sure for a while even during university. I remember as a child I loved drawing, and I loved imitating cartoons and animations onto paper and colouring them in with detailed shading. I recall running up to my family saying that I wanted to pursue art when I grew up, and they laughed at me in response and told me I would only start earning money when I passed away - which was half true. However, one thing I knew was what I wanted to pursue had nothing to do with money, even though my family wasn't financially stable. I just wanted to be happy, while doing something I loved. Without knowing I think that became my dream.
The arts always followed me since I was child. At a young age I attended private piano lessons and did dance at a private studio. When I started at MacGregor State Primary School I participated in dance, violin and choir. I was very fortunate as my primary school had a good music program and great music classroom teachers, and I enjoyed it a lot. I was a very quiet, awkward child, and slowly opened up to become the class clown - hence the terrible puns. Music really helped me open up. It made me feel comfortable and find a purpose in life. However, I never saw it as a career, perhaps only an activity of public performance, socialising and sense of happiness. At that point I never thought about my future, but only figuring out who I was and what was right and wrong.
Seven years later I went into MacGregor State High School, again with a fantastic music program and music teachers. I met more people, and I also got introduced to more music. I clearly remember watching the Percussion Ensemble 1 directed by David Adelt, I was immediately inspired with excitement. I thought that's what I want to do, and that's the music I want to play. Soon I joined the Percussion Ensemble 2, as well as still juggling violin. I dropped dance ages ago and began piano lessons for a while. In my last year of high school I did drama, and participated in choir again. Career wasn't my focus yet, but short term goals within school became very important to me. I set out to become Percussion Ensemble 1 Captain, Albinoni (Senior String Ensemble) Captain, Instrumental Captain, and School Cultural Captain - all of which I achieved. However, the main reason I wanted to pursue music in the end was because of the percussion ensemble.
Percussion Ensemble 1 had a reputation at MacGregor State High School when I first started. They won Australian National Fanfare, beating all music ensembles in participating Australian schools and were highly praised for their achievement and talent. They would always place first at Australian Percussion Eisteddfod and often played exterior gigs representing the school at functions or concerts. All of this under the one and only David Adelt, a very intelligent and fine percussion teacher within school music programs. His ensembles were taken seriously, and music was more than just 'extra curriculum'. I started dedicating most of my school time to this program and my music within percussion. In my second last year of high school our Percussion Ensemble 1, which became Mac-Cussion, were asked to be on television for Channel 7's Australia's Got Talent. An absolutely amazing opportunity, which brings me to the moment where I decided music could become my career path. At our first round at the Gold Coast Arts Centre, we were immediately responded with a standing ovation. As a school ensemble, I've never seen that before. Also the fact that most of the people in the crowd were strangers and not parents or family members, and really enjoyed the performance. I can't explain the feeling, but it was like for a few seconds the whole room connected in a way and celebrated that moment together. To see a musical piece move an audience like that, I was just amazed at how powerful music can be and the response people can express towards such a thing too. I thought if something I loved could bring happiness to people's lives, then that's something I definitely wanted to pursue.
Unfortunately, in my last year of high school I lost my mentor and inspiration in music - David Adelt. After 20 years at the school, he decided to leave on a high note. Good thing is we're still in contact, and he's now my mentor, colleague and friend. Though at the time I was devastated and left with no motivation for a future in music. Though, I think that influenced me to become more independent and certain that I could pursue music with my new passion. The ensemble was never the same again as we lost most of our best players, but it needed a new direction this time and I also needed a new direction. That's when I went for all the captain positions and set out to achieve things for myself, and not for an ensemble or music program. These achievements helped develop a sense of encouragement and strength in preparation for my audition into the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith Unviersity.
I'll be honest. I'm not a naturally talented person, I wasn't a child prodigy, and I never had someone say to me in confidence that I should pursue music. I just consider myself a hard working person with goals and a dream. Similar to a neglected ballerina that was never fully supported due to her slightly rounder shape compared to the other pretty ballet dancers, which funnily enough was a chapter of my childhood - haha! I was ready to receive a letter saying that I didn't get in, and I was prepared to do a year of an education degree and then try auditioning again. To my surprise I received an e-mail notifying me that I was accepted into the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University for Classical Percussion and Jazz Vibraphone - the choice was mine. You can imagine the unlimited amount of emotions I was feeling at the time, and hoping I never woke up from a dream. I swear a couple of weeks after I received it, I would check it every now and then just to make sure it was real. Sometimes I would read them back with a smile on my face.
A week ago I received my three year degree in Bachelor of Music. Of course, it doesn't feel like I've graduated because I'll be heading back for Bachelor of Music in Honours next year. However, it makes me reflect how much I've achieved and accomplished within three whole years. As well as looking back in my early musical education too. So much has happened, and it became a whole new world of discovery with new people, new communities, new music, new ensembles - a new journey. There are a lot of lessons I learnt, and not just music lessons but life lessons. One of the biggest lessons was 'there is no wrong'. We get taught at such an early age, what is right music and what is wrong music. However, the longer I play music the more I discover that it's all in our heads. Yes, there is incorrect and correct when it comes to a yes or no question. However, music is music, expression is expression, and interpretation is interpretation. How you see, feel and hear something is different to how another takes it. So what is right, and what is wrong? I used to fear 'wrong' so much that I acknowledge that I have anxiety - something quite common in music. Though how funny is it that so many musicians who love music have anxiety to play it? Ironic, isn't it? Though I haven't overcome the fear, but resulted to tolerating it as my friend. It's an adrenaline that I take with me when I'm on stage, and becomes part of my music now. In life, there is no wrong either. It's just how you view it in comparison to how the society views it, but the difference is you're in control of your views - no one can change that. I strongly believe this, because this mental battle happened in my first year at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University.
When I started university, I was certain that this was my dream and this goal was unstoppable. I had all the support I needed, and all I had to do was work hard. However, down the track I encountered negativity much bigger than myself. Someone I respected in music, told me that I was incapable of music and the dreams I set out to achieve. It was hard to hear that, and for once I felt music wasn't my path. I am a very self-conscious person, and to hear that from a mentor just crushed me. For a while I had no belief and went into a dark world, and I started becoming illiterate to music to the point I couldn't play a single note correctly. Practice would always result in anger and tears, and I almost just gave up on music entirely. Luckily, I met a beautiful person in my life. Someone perhaps at the time didn't know that his encouraging words would change my life for the better. I expressed my fear over the person who gave me negativity, and he said, 'just keep doing what you're doing, because you work harder than anyone else'. A few simple words, but enough to pick me back up again. Those words made me sit back and think about how much work I've put into this dream, and how much I've fought to get where I am today. I could never just let it go due to one negative experience or even many more to come. However, I don't regret the negative experience or any that have happened. They've all made me stronger and shaped me to the musician and person that I am today. Everyone in my life have influenced me whether it was negative or positive, and I will constantly learn new things as I grow.
I guess the purpose of this blog isn't to celebrate education, but appreciate it. Education is so important, and not just those given to us in school but also in life. It shapes who you are as a person and the values and morals we hold. It's so important to be aware of these things around us, and to take advantage of the situation with new knowledge and perspective in life. Education isn't a piece of paper, it isn't a letter or number, it isn't medals or trophies. Education is knowledge, experience, influence, inspiration, and changes how we live, breathe and move every day. People should never limit themselves because of money or culture, but they should choose with passion, love and happiness. Sometimes following your heart can surprise you, and for the better too. However, everyone's dreams and the journey that goes with it is different, but throughout their lives they've learnt something and it's shaped them to who they are today. Most importantly, you as a person controls what you learn or don't learn. Teachers and mentors are there to advise and guide, but your dream is yours and your life is yours. There is so much out there, and you won't be able to see it unless you open the door and let it in.
Laugh, Love, Live Education!
This blog is a space to share my thoughts, past, present and future moments in my life. Feel free to leave a comment, like the blog or share it! - Anna