An open book of hymns on the table of her dorm, a keyboard in the corner on its stand, small pots of plants on the window sill, memories past pinned to the wall in stills — and amongst them Eva Ross sits on her bed, eyes closed, plucking on to her guitar, singing The Avett Brothers’ “Paranoia” as she drifts off to a world of music.
The 19-year-old WKU horticulture major is not only a student but also a folk singer. She is a motivated musician who does not want to use her musical talent to make lots of money and a big name for herself. Instead, she wants to use music to cure the ill through music therapy.
“I am really interested in music therapy. Because it would allow me to do what I love, while helping people,” Ross said.
Ross has been exposed to music from a very early age.
“My mother was a folk singer too. She is the one who taught me how to play guitar when I was eight. She taught me a few chords and then I found my own way. Later, when I was 12, I took piano lessons but it didn’t quite click, because I didn’t want to sit there and learn. I wanted to go wild with it,” she said.
Ross has never been fond of school because of its restrictions and rules. She has always wanted to be free and limitless — to be able to do whatever she wanted to do.
“I never studied music because; I didn’t want to make it like maths. I wanted to make it fun. Also I didn’t know how to read music and that is why I have been hesitant to study it, plus music as a career is very unsustainable,” Ross said.
Jeremy Kelly, a music professor at WKU who has also been an opera performer for the past 25 years, said that making a career in music is not only very difficult but also very limited.
“A career in music is not only about having talent, one must also have the drive to achieve and realise dreams. It is this drive that should make you say ‘I don’t need internet. I don’t need cable. Because I want to be an artist,’” Kelly said.
Ross said not everyone can make it big.
“That is why we praise the musicians who make it to the top without learning music at school,” she said.
“When I play music, I play from my heart. Music is like an expression to me, it is not something I do to get fame, recognition or money. I do it because I love it,” Ross said, and that is why she aspires to become a music therapist over a performing artist.
“Music therapy is real and genuine interaction with people. They are not just listening to a recording, instead they get to experience and feel the music,” she said. “And ultimately, one day I would like to have my own institution. I think it takes a soft-hearted, gentle, caring person to become a music therapist.”
For Ross music has been her salvation and will always be her salvation, even if she doesn’t get to do it professionally.
“I don’t necessarily need someone to sit beside me and listen to me sing,” she said “for me, knowing that I have the freedom to sing whatever I want to sing, makes me happy.”
P.S: This article was written as a part of my final project for my Introduction to media writing class.