Music lights up my soul despite stage fright beginnings 

By J1 Reporter Ellie Fogarty

All of Ellie

What sparks creativity in my life? Is it the people? The nature that surrounds me? The books that I read? The songs that I sing? When I’m struggling and feel blocked from creativity, I always resort back to the one thing that fills my heart with energy, love, company, and peace, and that is music. 

From a young age, I’ve always been inspired by the creative voices around me. My earliest memories recall my Grandpa singing traditional Irish songs while strumming the guitar he inherited from his brother-in-law. He cherished that guitar and played it with grace. My Grandma would sing along with the most perfect harmonies and his friends would join in playing the banjo, tambourines, and acoustic guitar. My Grandpa had no stage fright contrary to me, his granddaughter. 

The idea of talking to people, yet alone singing in front of people made my stomach turn. It wasn’t for me or so I thought. My Grandpa would yell my name across the room to “come sing” but I never did. I knew all the songs and had heard them a million times, but being noticed meant people would talk about me, and in my head that was the worst thing in the world.

So I awkwardly sat in the corner with my legs crossed and hands folded mustering up the confidence so that maybe one day I’d be the one in front of the microphone. 

My Aunt Pat, who was also my piano teacher, always proposed that I play the piano, granted I was horrible at the piano and never practiced like she told me to. I went to the lessons every Monday after school. She lived just down the street so at 3:30 P.M. I’d make the walk to Aunt Pat’s house. It was six blocks if I walked up Western Avenue first. She was kind, sweet, and brilliant at the piano. I didn’t have a piano to practice on. All I had was a tiny pink keyboard I found in my Grandma’s crowded basement that took double A batteries. For four years I spent every Monday listening to Aunt Pat grumble about my appalling technique and my mediocre knowledge on music theory. I’ll always remember the feeling of Aunt Pat’s cold wrinkly hands aggressively attached to mine as she attempts to teach me something. Maybe she had a vendetta against me for all the practicing I never did, but It seemed like her favorite thing to do at family gatherings was suggest that I play the piano. I don’t know why because I was a reflection of her teaching, and all the years of piano lessons did not reflect my actual piano skills, I had none. 

Although nothing made me happier than music being the focal point of every family event I was never brave enough to join in myself. I debated whether I should listen to my heart or let fear control me, but listening to the musicians in my family inspired me. I wanted to be just like them, spreading love and happiness through music. After spending my whole life unsettled by the idea of committing any act of public creativity, I suddenly let that fear leave me behind. Music flipped the switch and turned on a light bulb that reminds me every day why I devote so much of my time to music. 

Almost 6 years later, I now spend my Mondays with Rachel Griggs, a vocal teacher at the Omaha Conservatory of Music. I practice and grow my muscianship everyday in Honors Select Women’s Choir and Vocal Jazz, forever remebering the scared, anxious, and reserved little girl I left behind. 

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