Musical Autobiographies (or the story of YOU)

August 4, 2011

I remember years ago when I completed certification in music education at the UW-Madison that I was asked to write a musical autobiography.

Have you ever done this?  It’s exhilarating and a reminder of what may have sparked us to begin to love music, and it can also tell us a lot about our musical identities.

Here is a little autobiography I wrote a few minutes ago:

I am Baby from Dirty Dancing, hanging out in the now mostly closed-down resort hotels of the Catskills of New York State, watching senior citizens dancing on the stage to the sounds of my dad’s lounge band where he played piano, mostly latin jazz but also the standards too. I was way cool because I could go “backstage” even, and I have photos of me and Joan Rivers and Dom Deluise and autographs of the likes of Taxi star and wrestling dude Andy Kaufman and also Nipsy Russell.   Nightly I would soak up the jokes of these comedians, and also take in the crooning of jazz singers and Broadway singers like Benedette Peters.   This all had a huge impact on me, along with playing blues at home with my dad and improvising on various tunes with him.  He wrote a tune for our jazz high school ensemble, with me on alto saxophone and doubling on flute. I was a samba star, improvising above the band, feeling like a queen. Since then, I went down the path of classical training, and finished the Masters in Flute Performance and have also dabbled doing some post-graduate studies with some really fine mentors.  However my heart is always somewhere else, not 100% in the classical realm.  It’s not that I don’t feel I fit in, it’s just it’s not my musical voice, at least not the majority of the classical rep for flute. I’ve been the happiest when I am playing tangos or irish music, duetting with an accordionist, or playing flute and electronics stuff.  I just signed up to be a part of a Gamelan ensemble, and I can’t wait to get started. 

What fun! After writing it I realize again how much those Dirty Dancing days molded me into who I am, and how it affects the rep I choose today.  I’m happier as a flutist when I’m doing stuff that’s either folky or international, or stepping outside the typical boundaries of classical music, and it is thanks to my jazzy dad and his job at Kutsher’s Country Club and all the sounds there that were buzzing in my ears.

What does your musical autobiography tell you about you?

3 Responses to “Musical Autobiographies (or the story of YOU)”

  1. […] Read the full post at Innovative Ideas in Performance & Pedagogy >> LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  2. This came out with perfect timing for me, as I’d actually done this a day or two before you posted!
    I wrote more about it here:

  3. Laura Lentz Says:

    Thanks Diana! I remember so clearly how writing a musical autobiography years ago helped clarify some things for me, about what music meant to me, how it identifies me and how I make musical decisions in my life as a result. It felt so good to write it again, and very useful too to help me stay on track! Thanks for sharing your post, it’s beautifully written!
    all best, Laura

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