In school systems across the United States, students of all ages are expected to participate in an art class of some kind. In elementary school, all children take a weekly music class. Middle school and high school students are given the options of elective classes, which are taken into account when they apply for college. But the value of music lessons extends far beyond academic success. Since the moment I was old enough, I have taken piano lessons and voice lessons. My involvement in music has shaped who I am today and brought me success in ways that many of my peers have not yet experienced. Music has always been a part of my life. In fact, my first memory is sitting on my bed at three years old, singing “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. In elementary school, I had a lead role in most of the music programs and junior musicals we performed, and I was also in a citywide elementary chorale. Music took up a huge portion of my time, but I never thought much of it. It was something I loved to do, and I didn’t grow tired of it. Middle school came, and I signed up for chorus all three years. During this time, I began taking both group voice classes and private voice lessons. I was able to expand my range and gain vocal strength through my private voice lessons, which helped me to be selected for All-City Chorus and District Chorus each year. Through performing songs in voice classes and participating in musicals at school, I discovered my passion for musical theatre. And in eighth grade, I was given the lead role in my middle school’s production of The King and I, Jr. By high school, I couldn’t get enough of music. So I chose to attend the Visual and Performing Arts Academy (VPAA) at Salem High School for their vocal program. Outside of school, I continued my voice lessons and sought out any possible opportunity to perform. I performed in voice classes, auditioned for musicals, sang in choirs, and continued my studies in piano lessons and guitar lessons. By my sophomore year, I had decided that music would be a permanent part of my life. I have been provided with amazing opportunities because of my pursuit of music. I am singing in the most prestigious choir in VPAA as a junior, and in the spring, I will perform at Walt Disney World in Florida. I have also performed in countless musicals and continue to audition for them several times a year. I will also perform at Virginia Beach’s Sandler Center for the Performing Arts in January. And because of my background in music, I was offered a job at a local music store as a teenager without having to apply. Music has taught me the importance of perseverance and determination in order to reach goals, and so far, I have achieved what I aimed to. In the future, I plan to attend a college for musical theatre, and, if I’m lucky, perform on a Broadway stage. But in the meantime, I will continue to be grateful for the joy music has already brought me.