Sometimes I feel like there are so many directions I want to go in life, so many things I want to do, that I can barely keep my head on straight. When I graduated from high school, my goal in life was to perform music. I spent my college years working toward that goal, until I realized that I wanted to help people through music. I went to graduate school with the new goal of becoming a music therapist, but I never lost my passion for performance. I just sort of put it aside for awhile.

In the last year or so, though, I’ve had the itch to get back into it. That is not to say my passion for music therapy has diminished; in fact, quite the opposite is true. Lately I’ve been feeling more and more like I can do both, and though it can be overwhelming at times, I have found inspiration in so many places to keep at it. These are just a few sources of that inspiration:

Other music therapists who are in similar situations. Last spring, I had a long conversation with a music therapist across the country who struggles with finding a balance between her music therapist-self and her performing-self. I completely identified with her, and was reassured to hear her say that it is okay to embrace both passions.

The internet. I come across websites every day that tell stories of other performers with unconventional backgrounds, career paths, and day jobs. I am constantly reminded that people don’t fit neatly into boxes labeled “singer/songwriter”, “music therapist”, “teacher”, etc. There is a lot of overlap between all the branches of the music world.

Laurie Berker. Okay, so I talk about her all the time, but I can’t help it. Like me, she began her career using music to connect with and help children. She started writing her own songs, and with a lot of hard work, made a name for herself through her music and now reaches children all over the world. I read a great interview with her yesterday which made me look up to her even more.

Allison Weiss. This girl knows what she wants to do, and is going after it. She makes use of all of her resources, and is, as she calls herself, a totally DIY artist. In fact, I first learned about Kickstarter through her website. She raised $7,000 to make her album, and although she doesn’t work with children, she connects with people through her music in a way that any music therapist or musician in general can appreciate.

My own audience. When I am doing music therapy, I don’t think of my students as my audience. Music is merely the tool that I use to work with them on goals that are actually non-musical. But when I hear a student (or staff member!) singing one of my songs outside of the music therapy session, it makes me feel like my music is not only therapeutic, but also enjoyable. Sort of the same feeling I get when I am performing in a non-music therapy setting and people are responding to my songs.

I hope this all makes sense, not just inside my head, but to you as well. The bottom line is that I never want to stop being a music therapist, nor do I want to stop performing. The universe seems to be telling me that it is okay to do both, so I am just going to keep listening :)