by Jeanne Ireland,
One of the most terrifying realizations I’ve come to in my musical education is that there are millions – MILLIONS – of incredible voices out there. More specifically, millions of voices more advanced and with better technique than mine.
So what can I do with my education as a young mezzo with big dreams? My first instinct was to do the same thing as all my friends looking to study medicine or law: go to a huge school with a famous name. I started researching those schools, and came to my voice lessons with laundry lists of universities across the country, and watched my voice teacher’s sly smile as I proudly presented the schools that would guarantee me a career, with the other hundreds of other dreamers in my class. It was then that my teacher chose to impart some words of incredible wisdom:
Everyone has his or her own path.
It seemed trite at the time, but after letting those words simmer for a bit, I came to an equally terrifying realization. This nugget of truth meant that I could create my path, there’s no one way to reach a dream, and the best thing I could possibly do with my education is to custom fit it to my wants and desires. Instead of looking across the country for this illustrious correct course, I turned to my backyard and haven’t looked back since.
My decision to study at a smaller school close to home further confirmed my voice teacher’s idiom. I found a new instructor with my best interests at heart, someone who takes pride in my voice and wants me to succeed. I’ve been given the opportunity to study and sing internationally on numerous occasions. I’m convinced that had I followed someone else’s course, I wouldn’t have gotten to design the world-class education I’m convinced I’ve earned.
More importantly, the characteristics of the University of Denver that I love now are not what made it right for me. What is crucial to any education, and specifically musical education, is that you do what’s right for you. In order to truly get the most out of your education, you have to own it, make it yours, and take care of yourself. Empowering yourself with not only an education, but one you choose will only further your confidence and swagger in the industry – something intrinsic to success in music.
Taking my education into my own hands, the same way I wish to manage my career, is exhilarating and terrifying and the absolute only way to reach my potential. I’m still a young mezzo with big dreams, and can’t wait to continue with my education – and the path I’ve tailor-made for myself.
Mezzo soprano, Jeanne Ireland is currently a Senior at the University of Denver majoring in Music with an emphasis in Vocal Performance. Jeanne can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.