Melody The Monthly
NOVI LOCATION: 43370 West 10 Mile Rd Novi, MI 48375 TROY LOCATION: 4000 Livernois Rd Troy, MI 48098 PLYMOUTH-CANTON: 9357 General Drive Suite 101 Plymouth, MI 48170
THE ENDLESS SEARCH FOR MY MUSICAL IDENTITY
As a musician, music teacher, and owner of a music school, I often get asked about the kinds of music I listen to in my free time. But, like many things in my life, such questions have more complicated answers than the asker usually expects. My musical identity has been inextricably shaped by my complicated upbringing and my experiences in college as I branched out to explore the world of music further. But, again, it’s not quite that simple. Anybody who knows me, or has read previous editions of the newsletter, knows my mother struggled with mental illness throughout her life. Beyond that, her worldview was dominated by an aggressively old-school Christian lens. Growing up, she adamantly steered us away from anything from the secular world. She’d tell us that kids who went to public school had been led astray by evil. She labeled the people who lived outside the stringent confines of her fundamentalist belief system “worldly,” or, as she was particularly fond of saying, they were “of the devil.” When my mother was angry, she would terrify us kids, turning into a different, darker figure, completely without mercy. We were always walking on eggshells around her, especially when we moved into our teens. Few things prompted her ire as quickly as the secular music that permeated American culture, especially rock music. So my sisters and I were exposed only to a narrow field of worship and Christian music—people like Amy Grant or Michael W. Smith. It’s worth noting this did not include Christian rock, though. That was still decidedly “of the devil.” When I was about 16 years old, I made friends with a boy who you might refer to as a more “worldly” Christian. He was the definition of cool, and admittedly, I had a huge crush on him. He introduced my younger sister, Rachel, and I to the world of Christian rock. He showed us bands like Kutless, with distorted guitars and loud drums. He burned us a bunch of mix CDs, which we spent hours listening to in the car. We always kept it hidden from my mom, a rare act of minor rebellion. When I was 18, my mom dragged us all to the weeklong Bill Gothard seminar, an event evangelizing Gothard’s crazy, skewed version of Christianity. He spent an entire day lecturing on how any music that bore the markers of rock, even so-called
Christian rock, was the work of the devil, and attracted literal demons into the family home. My sister and I glanced at each other, filled with shame.
A week after the seminar, we went to the park with our stack of Christian rock CDs and snapped every one of them in half. Needless to say, it wasn’t a good feeling.
“I hunted for anything with a big build, anything that punched through the repression of my youth and allowed me to truly feel something.”
Soon after, when I moved out to attend college, my mom’s mental health worsened dramatically, and her hold on us began to slacken. As I studied for my degree, I became immersed in the world of classical music, loving it more and more. I also, for the first time in my life, began turning on the radio and listening to whatever was playing. My outlook shifted quickly after that. But, regardless of the genre, I always gravitated to intense, dramatic, and emotionally charged pieces. I hunted for anything with a big build, anything that punched through the repression of my youth and allowed me to truly feel something. Now, I listen to a huge variety of genres, rarely finding anything I don’t like. But I still don’t know if I’ll ever find my real “musical identity.” There’s still a lingering feeling of shame and guilt that bubbles up occasionally, like something that likely will never be resolved. In the meantime, I’ll keep exploring by exposing myself to new and different things. No matter what, I can always find refuge in those songs that lift me up and out of myself, charged with feeling and meaning.
- Jessica Schatz
Novi Location: 248-773-8364 | Troy Location: 248-845-4611 | Plymouth-Canton Location: 248-480-9108 | 1
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