Someone please proof read! This is for a scholarship application due before midnight tonight!


Music is core to my being. It echoes my feelings, resonates with my thoughts, and soothes my soul.

I can’t help but sing when I’m feeling good. It bursts out of me when I have high energy, and slips out like casual conversation when I’m distracted doing other things. When I lose my singing voice to sickness, a layer of sadness blankets my world making everything feel heavier.

About 20 years ago the question floated around: If you had to choose, would you prefer to be blind or deaf? Most people said deaf. I, hands down, no hesitation, would choose blind. I couldn’t stand not being able to hear music. Not being able to hear myself sing, the beautiful music of rain falling, the wonderful sound of my youngest singing, the lovely sound of my oldest playing the piano, nor any of my favorite songs or good new songs, would be death to my inner self.

I use music to guide my feelings. As with most people, when I need to cry I listen to sad music. When I need more energy, I play upbeat dance tunes. But I discovered long ago how to use music to change my mood. When I am sad but don’t want to be, I start out listening to slow neutral subject songs and step by step move towards lyrical music that normally makes me smile. I have a De-stress play list I use that starts out with high energy fake happiness of “Christmas at Ground Zero” by Weird Al to help me physically and sarcastically burn off the stress energy, and then song by song changes slightly until it gets to low energy songs about letting go like “I’m Walking Away” by Craig David, and eventually becomes calm music that I associate with my sense of self. It’s still amazing to me how effective music is in controlling my emotions.

Not being able to sing is the worst. No amount of music seems to help then, because I can’t sing along with it. I so much prefer to lose my speaking voice than my singing one. And it’s not even about communication to me. It’s about expression. Music coveys so much more than words alone. That’s what I need.

I can use music to corral my thoughts too. When I need to focus on a task, I tell people “I’m going into my headphones.” I play it just loud enough to drown out the thoughts of the second track that near-constantly runs in my mind, but not so loud my main attention can’t concentrate. If I want to remember an event or person, I can simply play or sing the song I associate with them. The longer I’ve known someone and the more important they are in my life, the more likely I have multiple songs associated to them. Which is even better, because then I can pick the song that both reminds me of the person and more closely matches the feelings I want to experience at the moment. For those people most central to my being, I’ve most likely even written lyrics about them set to songs I know.

One example is the “Emily, and I am me” song I made up for my long time best friend and I, set to “Ebony and Ivory” by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. Another, better, example this song which I wrote for my daughter when she was 2 ½, to the tune of “Save the Best for Last” by Vanessa Williams:

I watch you growing ev’ry day
Sometimes I wish you wouldn’t change
Then you accomplish something new
And we are both so proud of you

But there was a time I thought that I was as
Happy as I could be
You were so small, and fun to hold and love
And so in need of me

I watch you growing ev’ry day
Sometimes I wish you wouldn’t change
But as you grow I see it’s true
I was so blessed when I had you

And now you’re talking ev’ryday
Ever-y thing in ev’ry way
It’s so much fun to speak with you
And hear all the things you say you do

And I so look forward to the day
You sing along with me
And we dance around and bike ride outside
How much fun all that will be

And now you’re talking ev’ryday
Ever-y thing in ev’ry way
The more you talk I hear it’s true
I was so blessed when I had you

I’m not good at creating music to go with my songs. I mostly just alter the words of existing compositions. But I can make up a ditty on the spot when I need to. Just a little up – down – up – down type thing, or da – da – da – DA – da – daaa. Enough that I was able to fake some tunes each time we came across the lyrics of an old song I never learned while reading the Little House on the Prairie series to my daughter.

However, I’m great at on the spot altering known songs for things I’m currently thinking or talking about. My absolute favorite time recently was two Winters ago when I was trying to leave daycare with both my children. My oldest was playing too much to want to go. So I picked up my youngest and simply started walking down the hall away from the room my oldest was in. She called after me to wait and not leave without her. To which I responded by singing to the tune of “Winter Wonderland”:

You-know that I’d-never leave without you.
I’m-m not that kind o-of Mama.

From her office, the then current daycare center director said to me: “I love how you sing everything. It makes me happy.” And that made me happy!

I get occasional comments like that when I’m out and about, especially at the grocery store when I’m singing along to the overhead music. Once, long before my kids were born, a woman stopped me and asked where I worked, where did I sing? I told her I wasn’t a singer, but a computer programmer. She replied it was a pity, that I’d just be singing to my babies.

The funniest part of it all is that as a child I was a very poor singer! I still can vividly hear in my ear my mother telling me, “You can’t carry a tune in a handbag!” I loved singing so much, despite my apparent tone-deafness, that I resolved to prove her wrong. It took some time, but I worked and worked at it with the radio, and then with my knockoff Walkman. When I got kind of good enough, I joined the church choir as a young teen. That helped a lot. I listened to the women who sang the best, and tried to copy their techniques and vocal sounds. I learned how to sing in my chest, in my throat like normal, and in my nose / head. But most importantly, I learned how to breathe while singing! In college I joined the university named chorus for the first two years, and then an acapella group for the last two years. Those helped immensely too!

Long ago I thought about trying to become a professional singer. Once I made steps in that direction, but I wasn’t willing to live the minimalist, part time jobs, scrounging life of “paying dues” while I established myself. Music isn’t a love of my life: It is a constant in my life. It’s not something I create, it’s part of who I am, how I am. I love to dance because it is an expression of the music. I don’t just love to sing, I have to sing. Yes I love music, because I am music. But it doesn’t fulfill me. It is a part of me.

As such, music has helped me all along my life. It’s been my constant companion. It’s kept me company when I was lonely at home after school. It’s filled my time in my room as I played the same song over and over to memorize the lyrics or work out dance moves. It’s kept me calmed or entertained while I did my homework, or later while I worked at my college job cleaning bathrooms or dorms. It’s given me starting points for writing spells or journals for live action roleplaying games I’ve participated in. It’s walked, hopped, skipped, and even danced with me as I moved between classes, or between home and bus, and bus and work. It’s helped me soothe my babies, or entertain them, or kept my baby awake longer, or just kept me calm enough to continue walking around in the middle of the night with my baby crying in my ear.

As I now move towards my purposeful life of being a doctor, music is of course still here. While studying for the MCATs, I made up two songs to help me remember the required amino acids. One to the tune of “Daughters of Triton” from Disney’s the Little Mermaid, because that was my oldest child’s favorite movie at the time, and one to the refrain from “Brick House” by The Commodores because the shape of the ring when the chemical formula is diagramed looks like a house! “It’s shaped like a house”.

And I know music will be with me until the end. I expect some song will pop into my head in my final moments. Hopefully it will be a meaningful or helpful one as I transition.

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