Pursuing a dream AND paying the rent = ?

Q: What are some of the things you are doing to make the moves that are necessary to make your musical dreams come true and eat at the same time?

A: Sixteen years ago, when I started taking voice lessons, I could barely read music. I'd played instruments in high school but dropped them all except strumming the guitar now and then. I was also working full-time in an office - something I found creatively limiting and time-consuming, but we all have to pay the rent…

Six years later, the company I worked at was sold… and we were told that our jobs were safe.… and a week later, they laid off 9 people - I was one. I was pretty bitter about that… but I met an old friend on the street that I hadn't seen for a while.

She said, "why don't you teach singing?"

I said, "I couldn't do that."

"But you've been taking lessons for years. And you don't have to think about training someone for the opera.… lots of people just want to be able to sit around the camp fire and sing comfortably."

She was kind enough to help me prepare 6 proposals for group voice classes that I sent to the different community centres in Vancouver… and one of them said yes. The class minimum was 6. Only 4 people signed up - I said I'd take a cut in pay to teach it. Once the class began, 2 more signed up.

The next semester, another community centre got on board. And I got a part-time job in the office of the church where I sang in the choir. Not only did I need a part-time job to pay my rent, but I also could then use the piano rooms for practice....and eventually got permission to teach there as well. Within a year, I'd changed the group voice classes into 30 minute private lessons at both community centers.

Within two years I was teaching 3 nights a week at community centers, a few hours at the church, and working part time in the church office. I did that until I moved to Victoria, where I was fortunate to find a place I could live and teach.

Through a fortunate turn of events - one of my students suggested I get in touch with a local recording studio who was looking for singers.… the producer and I started talking.… we ended up writing a few songs together (I hadn't written in years).… he inspired me to get back into songwriting....

Now I write music, record music, teach music, perform music… I live in music every day. I've since taken piano lessons, guitar lessons, harmonica lessons, I just picked up a mandolin... and I'm taking courses in songwriting, too.

I can tell you quite honestly when I started voice lessons I had no idea I would be teaching singing, writing songs & instrumentals, recording in my own studio, etc. I'm still amazed by it. I can also tell you that I have sacrificed financially on an ongoing basis to be able to live this creative life. To me it is worth it, but I didn't have to worry about bringing up a family. If I did, I'd probably still be working in an office and playing the guitar now and then.

You must perververe. You must find a way to bring music into your life everyday. You must do music for the love of it, because you can't imagine doing anything else. And keep moving forward yes, but don't limit yourself in your definition of success (a hit record, singing at the Opry)… my goal in life is to "be IN the music" and that's what I try to do everyday.… and I trust that is leading me somewhere.

Most of all, I thank God for the people who have come into my life - especially people like you, who take the time to listen to my music and read my words, and who take the time to share a little of their journey with me :)

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