I am a firm believer that music lessons have enriched my life in many, many ways. I can’t even imagine how different my life would be with out them. Music lessons have helped me in so many different aspects of my life over the years. They gave me self-esteem and confidence when I was younger. I knew I was good at something, and I loved being able to sit down at the piano when at a friend’s house and perform for them and their families. That confidence spilled over into other areas of my life. I never doubted that I could do something if I tried. In 4th grade I ran and was elected as Vice President for the Student Government Association. In 5th grade I ran and was elected as President. For both of these elections I wrote songs with my guitar and sang them to the student body instead of making a typical, boring speech. The students loved it, the teachers loved it, and I loved it. Music lessons also gave me the confidence I needed for healthy interactions with my peers as well as my elders. In middle school music lessons helped me academically and socially. I was able to write songs for school projects, play in the school orchestra, play in the school jazz band, join more advanced orchestras outside of school, play in school talent shows, attend both local and regional music camps during the summers , and make friends through music. Music lessons allowed me to participate in all these activities and provided numerous social outlets for me. My friends and I used to jam and write songs together as young as 12 and 13 years old and as an adult I’m still very good friends with many of them. In fact I still get together and jam with several of them pretty often! In high school I was able to join Symphonicity (formerly known as The Virginia Beach Symphony), play guitar in two church bands (one volunteer and one paid), and teach private guitar and violin lessons. I played violin and guitar as a paid musician at weddings, and even had an opportunity to play as a solo violinist in a dedication to fallen firefighters in the area. At this point in my life, music became a job instead of just a hobby. Did this take the joy out of it? No way. It further motivated me to continue to practice and improve myself as a musician. And it helped me to save up and buy a Mustang on my own at 16 years old, so that was pretty cool too.