Music has always been a key part of my life. I grew up with parents who loved country music, heavy metal, The Beatles, and a lot of stuff in between. Through their love of music all over the spectrum, I learned to love music and all its aspects, but singing most of all. I loved singing anything I could, even coming up with songs and lyrics just for the sake of being able to sing. I hated silence and always insisted on playing music in the background of anything I did.
When I started school, music was mandatory. Chorus had us performing holiday concerts in weird costumes. We went through our required year of learning how to play the recorder. I was in fourth grade when we had the chance to pick a real instrument; I selected the violin and took to it quickly, but singing was still my first love. We were forced to choose in middle school – we could play an instrument or we could be in chorus. After two years just playing the violin, I put it away and returned to my roots in chorus.
Chorus was where I found my people.
I joined the drama club for a few years, which was a built-in family with our own inside jokes and special privileges. I performed in solo contests in the state. I met some of my best friends in chorus classes, as well as my all-time favorite teacher. Almost every lunch period I had in ninth grade was spent in our school’s chorus classroom with my best friend, another girl we were friends with, and our chorus teacher. We talked about the school’s musical of the year, had extra lessons, got to eavesdrop on the occasions other students had private lessons that period. Chorus was my safe space, my getaway from everything.
As a result, I’ve always drifted towards YA books that explore the importance of music in teenagers’ lives. A lot of books look at the potential celebrity that can come from a love of music – and I love those kinds of stories dearly – there aren’t as many books that just explore the everyday importance of music in a teen’s life and we need more of those. Books that look at not just the way music can be fulfilling in a teen’s life, but the community they find in that love of music.
If you, like me, grew up as a music nerd, I recommend:
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert
Noteworthy by Riley Redgate
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Supergirl Mixtapes by Meagan Brothers
Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz
Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black