Riva Capellari

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Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

Why Music?

For the past few years, the July News of Note issue has spotlighted teachers and the vocal challenges they face. Though barely into official summer, many teachers may already be preparing for their return to school in early August. So July seemed a good time to get them thinking about readying their voices for those long, intense days of vocal use. And while I am still offering discounts to teachers over the next few months ( see below), this year’s issue will have a slightly different angle.

Out of four children, I was the only one in our family who continued to seriously study music in my college years. Although all my siblings at one time took music lessons, they eventually separated into two camps, medicine and engineering.

I admit, as a young singer, I had lofty ideas of singing with an opera company, but in retrospect I am not sure that would have been the happiest road for me. I’ve spent my singing career performing with a variety of musical ensembles and opera companies, churches, even creating my own unique, professional vocal opportunities no matter where I lived. But I was also always teaching and have been doing so for almost 40 years.

So when I came across a letter written by the parents of a young woman desiring to major in music, the reply from Liz Ryan, a musician, mother, author and business woman, set me thinking about my own journey and where it  has led me.

Ms. Ryan begins by telling these parents their daughter probably has the intelligence and ability to pursue another career, but her passion led her to follow music. I knew many music majors who entered law or med school right after they received their musical degrees and were successful at the switch. I sometimes wonder what I would have decided to do if I had not had that “little flame” pulling me towards music.

According to Ms. Ryan, music students are hardy, scrappy and focused. They get up at unearthly hours to get on a bus for a competition and attend rehearsals before and after school. They are self disciplined, spending hours practicing and developing patience while honing their musical chops! They learn to improvise on the spot when things go wrong, like forgetting their music or losing their place during a concert. Most musicians compete from a young age and grow a thick skin from rejections, disappointments and hurtful criticism. They figure out how to manage the anxiety and stress that comes with live performing and become masters of entrepreneurship when no jobs are available. They enlarge their problem solving and team work skills, important assets for any job!

Few musicians become rich and famous. Most choose this avocation because they really love making music. And what is a “safe” career these days? College graduates are finding a scarcity of good jobs available to them, let alone those in their chosen field. Many of them end up working at anything they can find until something better arrives on the scene.

So Ms. Ryan’s final advice to these parents? Don’t stifle her desire and talent. Let her follow her heart. Making music will not keep her back, but will provide her with many essential tools for dealing with life and will expand her world wherever it takes her. I know that my choice those many years ago has brought me challenges and joys and most importantly, a life career that has no “retirement” date, but is a never ending adventure!

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