I’m looking out towards a sea of people glancing back at me and I’ve never experienced nerves like this in my life. My 5 year old body feels paralysed and I feel as though I’ve been glued down to the wooden bench I’m sitting on. I look down at my ukulele and I can feel the strings on my fingers. My nana had bought me this a year ago and my mum had this crazy notion to push me into joining the music program. Funnily enough, the ukulele was the only instrument you could play in my school. So there I was, stuck with 5 other like minded musicians, sitting on the front steps of my primary school about to play hits like she’ll be coming round the mountain to a bunch of randoms I’d never seen before. Was I petrified? You better believe it! I wanted to run, hide and crawl into a cave where no one could find me. This was it though; me ,my Fluoro green flat hat, denim overalls, my ukulele and a crowd full of people.
My hand drops down on the strings and the first strum appears to be the shakiest. I can sense the nerves of the other players, knowing they feel the same nerves as I do. I look out towards the crowd and I see eyes looking at me so clearly, but I know I have to regain my focus and concentrate on playing the chords. We’re halfway through the piece and I start to feel myself playing with more confidence. The crowd starts to become hazy and I can feel myself breathing slower. Sure, I’ll be honest in saying this wasn’t the most incredible, mind blowing performance anyone had ever seen. But I was doing it! Maybe notes were out of tune and I was out of time but I didn’t care. I was one with the ukulele and the ukulele was one with me.
A few years later after that, I never thought I’d play an instrument again. That was until one of my friends started playing the cello. Sure, I was happy for her that she was playing, but I never thought anything of it. She tried her best to convince me to join the music program at school and I looked at her like uhhh girl you’re crazy. Deep down subconsciously though I wanted to play again, but I knew I wasn’t the greatest at reading music which scared me. You see, there are those gifted people who can sight read and pick it up with a flick of a switch. I however was not one of them! I eventually got worn down and later found myself surrounded by violins, violas, cellos and double basses. I was playing alongside people who had professional lessons and practiced 4 times a week at home. That to me was intimidating. My parents didn’t have that kinda money and I wanted to show people that I was good enough. So I practiced and I practiced and I practiced some more. Sure, I didn’t have the most prettiest looking cello, but boy did it produce a beautiful sound. I had never found something so powerful that I could take my emotions and express them through this instrument. My androgynous personality had found its match.
I however had embarrassing moments where I felt like the black sheep at times. My teacher would have to stop performances at times due to the fact that i would aggressively move my bow too much, and it would look as though I could’ve taken off. She was one of the most passionate people though. I wanted to learn so much from her even though most people misunderstood her. She gave us music pieces that challenged me so much, but I loved the challenge and I wanted to perform as best as I could. Throughout the years I found myself experiencing music camps, performing at schools and universities at some of the most remote places. These were all of the experiences that I treasure so much.
I found myself sharing this love of music with my grandfather who was an opera singer. On the day of his funeral, his music was played throughout the church and I’ve never felt such a rush of emotions throughout my body. I sometimes sit by myself and listen to Pavarotti and Andrea boccelli which reminds me so much of him. To this day I can still hear his voice and I’m so grateful for the passion and love he had for music.