Follow my story of literally driving "from sea to shining sea" to make a new life in San Diego and continue my music therapy practice with children with autism.
My career blossomed out of a need for a new perspective. I majored in music in college (jazz voice and music technology), when my Dad died sophomore year. Up until then it was all music all the time: choir, marching band, concert band, orchestra.... anything I could do to avoid being home with my abusive step-brothers and step-sister. Being adopted into a family with racist siblings was no joke. Enter music. It was the perfect opportunity to explore something I felt I was good at in the safety of the band room walls away from home. My music teachers became my safe people and the music became my language. Back in college, I was more serious about music than ever, becoming proficient in jazz styles and really finding myself. When my Dad died in a tragic trucking accident at work I quite literally lost my voice. It would not sing. I opened my mouth and it seemed that all of my technique disappeared.
This is when I wished my voice teacher at the time (now a good friend) was a music therapist, as my body was clearly responding physically to emotional trauma. She kicked me out of the jazz studio and I was forced to spend a semester in the classical voice studio because the only other option was to give up my major. It was devastating. She called me into a meeting, where I found my teacher, the dean, and another faculty member in the department. Reluctantly and completely defeated, I did the breathing exercises and sang the arias and folk songs assigned. My boyfriend dumped me eight weeks after my Dad's death, sending me into a deep dive of depression and constant public break downs. I got straight A's that semester, but it was all simply going through the motions. I was an academic zombie. I did, however, feel that the classical voice teacher really saw me, even if I didn't have the energy to show that gratitude on the outside. As soon as I began to feel ready to really open up, she announced she was moving to Germany to pursue a performance career. I bawled like a baby. It ripped my heart out and I vowed to never enter into a relationship with music ever again. I planned to simply finish my degree and call it a day.
The world had different plans for me. The following year I was asked to sit as a student
representative on the hiring board to find a new music technology teacher. While I accepted, I was internally devastated because my tech teacher was a good one! The department was "downsizing" and essentially invited him to apply for the "new" tech position (their own job). I was determined to help them keep their job. It didn't work. Upon the final vote, the board decided on a new instructor with a big name from Japan. Long story short, I did end up opening my mind and formed a great academic relationship with the new faculty member. They helped me to really hone in on my engineering skills and build a portfolio to get into grad school, where I continued my jazz and tech studies. On the vocal side, I returned to the jazz studio where my old voice teacher was delighted to hear my progress. I dismissed it and decided that they weren't safe to trust, so I went through the motions to graduate and a few years later, I let my insecurities about singing get the best of me and stopped performing in public.
Fast forward through an incredible grad school experience at NYU filled with projects, amazing friends, living in and exploring the remarkable city of New York, and really truly finding myself; and I became a new me. After grad school I began my real career, music education. I decided to make some extra money substitute teaching and fell IN LOVE with it. I landed a