14 May Finding Your Voice
After leaving a full-time job in the corporate world to pursue a career in music, ArtSmart mentor Alexandra Mena embarked on a difficult 10 year journey to find her voice…and she doesn’t regret one day of it. Continue reading below to see how following her passion led her to a fulfilling life as a performer and teaching artist.
I came into music late, even though I grew up in a very musical household. I always knew that I should be in the arts, but I was afraid to pick music as a career because, like many, I worried about how I was going to pay my bills. In my twenties, I found myself in a full-time job, in a corporate environment, while attempting to go to school at night at a local community college. And while I was excelling at my corporate job, I knew that I was not quite where I needed to be. The pull of the artistic pursuit was strong, and my inner voice kept getting louder and louder every time I went to a show. The day that I finally began taking voice lessons, I felt at peace. But what laid ahead was the type of journey that I never expected…
One would think that it would be relatively straightforward to find ones voice, and where it fits in the big picture. But what followed was the polar opposite. It would take years, almost a decade, before I would find the teacher who truly understood my instrument and changed everything for the better. And in those ten difficult years, I faced everything from constant rejection, to serious vocal issues, and everything in between. Singing became a chore, and every day was a fight just to be able to vocalize well. Seeing my peers progress and move forward, while I continued to struggle, was debilitating. I questioned my choice of going into music, of entering an industry where supply far outweighed demand, and all the challenges that this dynamic posed, even for the best of singers. Yet, my inner voice and intuition never wavered, even when it made perfect sense for me to throw in the towel.
My rebirth began when I entered my period of ‘repair’. I will always treasure this difficult chapter of my life, since it taught me a lot about myself, both personally and professionally. I pulled away from the music scene and began to fix my vocal issues, one by one. I also decided to go back to school and pursue a degree in vocal performance. I was so taken by the intricacies of the voice, that I began to read books on vocal pedagogy, even when I wasn’t ready for some of them. What I didn’t realize then, was that this period of rebuilding and education was also grooming me for my surprise turn as a teaching artist.
I am the singer that I am today because of my journey. I am the teacher that I am to my students because of my journey as a singer. But these experiences also allow me to share with them that the path to success is not linear. That finding your voice and your place in the world takes reflection and self awareness. That you have to be your own advocate. That you have to run your own race, and that nothing worthwhile in life comes without effort, dedication, and its share of tears. And that I learned all this, and found my true voice, through the pursuit and gift of music.