Back in the spring of 2010 I decided that it would be a good idea to learn some theory. I went over to Suffolk County Community College and tried to register for a theory class beginning in the fall. They said no, you have to enroll in the music department and be a full-time student. Oh boy. And you have to pass a music equivalency test or take a music basics class over the summer and convince the music department to accept you. Huh? This is a community college. At least I didn’t have to audition. I opted to take the summer class since I had no formal music education and when the class began I realized that I knew nothing. Fortunately I did well in this class and I decided to continue as a full time student. I was thrown into theory, aural skills, piano fundamentals, and of course horn lessons, ensembles and juries. OMG.
When I started classes I worried a bit about how the other students would react to having someone older than their mothers in their classes. I didn’t need to worry. The kids were great. For about two weeks they weren’t sure how to talk to me but we all got comfortable with each other and I was treated like any other student. What a relief.
In the beginning of the first semester I didn’t do well and I really didn’t understand why. I had no trouble understanding the lectures but I wasn’t passing my tests. I took a careful look at my incorrect answers and realized that I was reversing the alphabet constantly. If the answer required building an interval a major second above C I would start on Bb instead of D. All the time. Even when I figured out what I was doing and went back over the answers I still messed up the alphabet.
I went for testing and found out that I’m dyslexic. Wow, that explains a lot. I was given twice the time to take tests and usually by my third or fourth pass over my answers I found all the mistakes. If I hadn’t figured this out I wouldn’t have made it past the first semester. Some of the issues I still face due to the dyslexia is an inability to play scales even though I work on them every day. My sight reading is atrocious as is playing the correct rhythm. It’s all slowly getting better. I’ve done a lot of research on musicians with dyslexia and my problems are typical. For a while I used this as an excuse for why I couldn’t do some things but recently I finally realized that it was just going to take me longer to learn and that this is okay. I’m also coming up with different ways to learn. No more excuses, no more ‘can’t do that.’
On to year two. The classes were a continuation of year one except instead of piano I had music history. That has to be the hardest class I’ve taken so far. Brutal. There were many times during that fall semester that I wanted to quit. I was really overwhelmed and I constantly questioned why I was putting myself through this. However, I didn’t quit and I got my associates degree. The next step, Long Island University, Post Campus.