Published on Monday, May 6, 2013 by Emma Raleigh
“Music is really the only thing I see myself doing, I can’t see myself doing anything else. But the only problem is that I’m doing two things.”
You don’t choose your passion, your passion chooses you. But it can be complicated.
“I feel like it’s something that words can’t describe, and it communicates to people what you can’t really say in words,” senior Rachel Warden said. “I’ve always felt like when I’m in music I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, like I’m doing my purpose.”
Rachel’s two passions, playing violin and singing, have played a crucial part in her life, and with college decisions coming soon, she has to choose between violin and musical theater.
“I want the college I attend to let me explore other things because I know that I want both singing and violin to be a part of my life,” Rachel said. “A lot of people are trying to make me choose, but I think there’s a way to make both of them work.”
Rachel started playing the violin at the age of five after she begged her mom for lessons. Ever since, she has felt a passion for music and for the instrument, with practicing always being a priority.
“Last year I had so much to do between violin and balancing IB, and I was also in the musical at school,” Rachel said. “I would get up at five in the morning and practice before school for 1-2 hours. Then I came home and did homework after practice around 10, and I’d practice another, say, two hours till about 1 in the morning.”
Rachel says this busy schedule is something she resorts to during times of high stress, but practice is always necessary.
“On a normal week, I go to school, I come home and usually procrastinate for 1-2 hours, and then I practice for up to two hours,” Rachel said. “Then I do homework, and I go back to the violin. I like to intersperse it because if I do too much of one thing I just get really tired of it.”
Even with a busy practice schedule, Rachel feels as though she needs to make time for the other important things in her life.
“I really value relationships with people,” Rachel said. “I want to have a social life and I don’t want to spend all my time alone in a practice room.”
Being immersed in a world full of friends and distractions, Rachel finds that separating herself and focusing on her music is one of the hardest things to do to.
“I have to say no to friends many times, and that’s been the hardest thing for me,” Rachel said. “But a part of me says, ‘this is what you want and you have to work hard, and this is the only way to do it’.”
Within school, she finds that the musical programs are a perfect way to express herself musically and to spend time with friends.
“My sophomore year, I really missed singing and I felt like part of my life was missing,” Rachel said. “I got into choir and I did not regret it. I found a lot of my friends there.”
In a perfect world, she says she would do it all, but with a clear path and a determined mindset, she knows what she wants. With this in mind, Rachel has spent countless hours rehearsing, performing, and competing.
“Growing up here there hasn’t been a lot of emphasis on classical music, orchestra, or strings,” Rachel said. “I spent a very long time just doing recitals for my private teachers, but last year I did my first concerto competition sponsored by The Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, and that was a really big deal to me.”
After she was selected as a finalist, Rachel competed and received third place.
“That was a really good experience for me, and after that I thought I should probably go to a music camp or a music festival, because that’s where a lot of musicians go during the summer to meet professors,” Rachel said.
Rachel applied for a summer program at The Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and after attending, many doors were opened for her.
“I was so nervous, but I had such a special musical experience. It was more than just music though,” Rachel said. “It’s about a state of mind, and a sense of self identity.”
The program taught Rachel that you aren’t solely defined by your instrument or your musical ability, which is something she has struggled with.
“Sometimes I think if I quit violin then I won’t be the same, and I won’t be unique,” Rachel said.
Recently, Rachel has discovered ways to connect her music to other parts of her life.
“At first my faith didn’t really play a part in my music,” Rachel said. “I did play a whole lot for my church, but I never really thought about it as God giving me a talent so I could praise Him with it.”
Having done mission trips in Texas and Belize, Rachel has found that helping others has given her just as much joy as music has.
“The feeling of helping people is kind of like music,” Rachel said. “It gives you a purpose, like you’re here for a reason.”
Rachel knows she wants to pursue music in the future: Belmont, Ithaca College, and SMU.
“I like to keep a balance between friends, church, and music. I really value being in a community, I’m looking forward to college where I can have friends in orchestra with me,” Rachel said.