Humans in Healthcare #36 | A musical tale

from a musical gal

Hi friend, Amy here, your authentically honest full-stop human, community builder, and creator of Humans in Healthcare, sharing the stories and experiences of healthcare professionals, patients, and caregivers.

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I grew up listening to the music greats.

Musicians like…

Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, and Brahms. 

Surprised? Having a mother as a music teacher will do that :)

Nothing moves me more than classical music.

Like Gershwin’s jazz-infused Rhapsody in Blue. Or Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Or Holst’s The Planets. Or Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of The Bumblebee. Or Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

My non-verbal, autistic brother used to scream at the top of his lungs to the beat of Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. You had to be there to understand the full effect.

I always embraced my classical music taste until the 4th grade when, at a school assembly, we were asked in front of the school who our favorite musical group was. Girl after girl in my row said Spice Girls — so when it came to my turn, I hesitantly followed suit with Spice Girls. New to the school, I didn’t want to stand out and be labeled as “that weird girl who likes classical music”. Kids can be so cruel. This is one of the distinct times I remember following a crowd instead of standing firmly in my likeness, my authenticity. I still feel the warm rush of shame wash over me when I reflect on that experience.

As my mother was the music teacher at my school, playing an instrument was a given. When it came time for me to pick my instrument to play, I dutifully chose a woodwind, the clarinet, since my mother played a woodwind, the flute, and my grandfather, the clarinet, too. 

That lasted all of three days. I hated the squeakiness and the feeling of the reed in my mouth. The clarinet just didn’t feel right, didn’t fit right. But in the corner, I saw the shiny bell of a 3-valved instrument and my curiosity became my destiny.

I picked up the trumpet and never looked back. 🎺

I’m still usually met with surprise when I share with people that I’m a trumpet player. Stereotypes still exist especially those of 5’3” females. Same for my mom who moved on from her music teacher days to become a school superintendent in a male-dominated field. Flute player and all. But, I digress.

Turns out my brother and sister also chose brass as their instruments (sorry Mom) — french horn and trombone. With me on the trumpet, we called ourselves the brass trio and we were dynamic!

What I love about the trumpet is the breadth of sound and depth of emotion within those sounds. The bold sass of brass, the melancholy tone of Taps, the smooth vibes of jazz — parallel to the breadth and depth of my emotions. The trumpet suits me because it describes me. It fits me. It’s my likeness.

What can we learn from this musical tale?

Thought 1 — Perhaps it’s not the person who chooses the instrument but the instrument who chooses the person.

Or like in Harry Potter, the wand that chooses the wizard. 

We often talk about finding our calling. Perhaps, we don’t find it — perhaps it finds us.

Are you missing out on being discovered by your calling because you’re hiding from your potential instead of stepping out to embrace it? Are you being called into something — the thing — and you’re missing it because you’re still playing the squeaky clarinet when you are meant to embrace the boldness of brass?

Thought 2 — It’s ok to trade what isn’t right for you for what is right for you in this season.

I quickly knew that clarinet was not for me, but the trumpet somehow found me and was just right for me. Me.

In your life, there may be situations that don’t feel right. Relationships that don’t feel right. Jobs that don’t feel right. Careers that don’t feel right. They might be right for someone else, but might not be right for you.

Or perhaps something feels forced or you are doing something for the sake of doing it because you’ve been conditioned to believe that you must. Must you, though? Have you ever challenged your thinking?

We had a wonderful conversation within the Humans in Healthcare community this past week about living a life of authenticity and much of what we discussed came down to the word alignment. Aligning your life and choices around your values and living in a way that is in congruence with that.

Given the number of career conversations I have these days with clinicians who feel guilt and shame as they seek to prioritize what is best for them — I think we need to hear this message: it’s ok to trade what isn’t right for you for what is right for you in this season.

I've come to think about my life in seasons as a way to honor and meet myself where I am, not where I think I should be. The world has made me believe that as a working woman, I should climb the career ladder, shatter the glass ceiling, and have it all at the same time while maintaining my sanity. But— that’s the quickest way for me to lose my sanity, my sense of self. So in this season, what is right for me is creating a space where I can be an intentional and present parent without losing my sense of self. Climbing a career ladder and overextending myself in a job that depleted me so I had nothing left over for my children is not right for me in this season of my life right now. Dreaming, thinking, building, creating, and parenting — is. So I’m trading in what isn’t right for me for what is right for me and leaving the guilt and shame behind.

Thought 3 — Live in your likeness, your authenticity.

I felt the warm shame of not living in my likeness that day I traded classical music for the Spice Girls. And I regret it.

For me, regret and reflection of such regret are signals of change. What has slowly changed since that day is the courage to live a life authentic to me — to live in my likeness instead of trying to live in someone else’s likeness.

Let’s have the courage to be different — to stand in our likeness instead of the shadow of someone else.

Remember — in the world of 8,005,176,000 people, there is only 1 of you.

The world needs the rarity of your soul, the magic that you bring. Don't dim your light. Shine bright.

Let’s strive to be more like the music greats who dared to bring their light into the world.

To trumpeters and the squeaky clarinets 💜 

In humanity,


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