Sometime after the age of 6, which is when I started piano lessons, I remember wishing I knew which keys sounded good together. I didn’t want to be tied down to play only what other composers had written. I wanted to play how I felt. A few years later, I began learning scales in the Circle of Fifths as part of my junior high percussion class. That experience gave me the basics of music theory, but it wasn’t until I was a freshman in high school that I began writing music.
Then, one evening my dad stopped to listen to me play the piano. He asked the name of the song. I sheepishly told him it didn’t have a name; it was just something I’d made up. He was amazed and immediately insisted I try out for the high school talent show. He even offered to give me a Boom Box if I made it. (I have a great dad!) I was flattered and excited and agreed.
A few weeks later I played Dreamer’s Sonata–which wasn’t a sonata at all–for a large crowd of mostly strangers in my high school auditorium. Performing under the lights was quite a thrill, but getting a tearful hug from my big sister afterward, hearing my mom describe awed nearby audience reactions, and then winning First Place Overall as a freshman was absolutely amazing! It was all I needed. I was a composer.
And I continue to be a composer. I’m not sure I could stop if I tried. It is a beautiful experience to create something that wasn’t there before.