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  • Writer's pictureLacie Carpenter

Getting Lost and Dancing Notes

I’m a classically trained violinist. I went to college for it and had some of the greatest and toughest mentors. I’m blessed, honestly. However, through the process of becoming “trained,” I got lost. Let’s flash back to when I was eight years old. I received my first CD-Bette Midler’s “Experience the Divine.” I had been taken away by her voice-although not technically incredible; full of passion, personality, and life. It was when I heard her arrangement of “Shiver Me Timbers” that made me think about writing and once I started, I couldn’t stop. Yes, the lyrics are phenomenal—Tom Waits is one of my favorite songwriters; but her intent when she sang it was completely different than when Waits sang it. Flash-forward a year to when I saw Burt Bacharach in concert. Coolest thing on the planet and from then on I knew I wanted to write and play music for a living. I just didn’t know how to get there. When I started playing the violin, I kinda forgot that I wanted to write songs. I was enthralled by this rather harsh and beautiful goddess that music is and my focus strayed. I appreciate my goals derailing. Classical music, unfortunately, wasn’t my true calling.  I respect it deeply and sometimes even enjoy playing it...but it’s never been my true love. (I do enjoy listening to a killer arrangement of “1812 Overture” and “Carmina Burana”...I LOVE “Carmina Burana”!!) When I started fiddling; it was done—I was going to become a fiddler. Again, I didn’t know how. I could learn everything humanly possible about it but no one gave me advice on how to get to where I wanted to be musically and professionally. I was told by a number of educators that I had two choices—become a teacher or a classical violinist and more than likely a teacher is what I’d become. 

My classical training will always be a part of me. I admire the great composers and beautiful arrangements. I have studied with great teachers and played with awesome performers.   I will continue to teach incredible students and will always respect the ones that learn, teach and play the beautiful orchestrations.  I have more than one love…yes, I do. I am not being unloyal to my teaching; I am being honest with myself and you when I say, “I love fiddling, singing, and songwriting!” God guides us in all directions and I believe this was one of my turns.   

I’m so grateful for the mentors that came into my life shortly before college and beyond—without them, I wouldn’t have become the musician I am today.  They were tough and showed me a new world.  I hope one day I can be as inspiring as all of them.

So I set out on a quest. I was going to become a professional musician-no matter the genre. I practiced 9-12 hours a day. Music was my life but I wasn’t going after my true passions. I didn’t care at that point. By that time, I had “stick it to the man” syndrome and by golly, I was going to graduate and become a professional violinist. Years passed...hundreds of performances and a Juilliard audition later, I found myself wondering where the spark had gone. The fire I had within me was quickly fading. I was tired. Nothing I was creating was amazing-by my standards. I was performing a lot but also teaching and building orchestra programs. I couldn’t do it all. Finally, something slapped me in the face one day—I was supposed to be making music. Writing songs. Fiddling. Not just playing with bands and orchestras—no. Something much bigger. My dream scared me and I knew it I had to chase it. I began to write more and more. I created one-woman shows and started performing them. But something had to go. I wasn’t creating like I should. I made a plan to move to Nashville. Once I said it out loud, I had to do it. It would be risking everything. I lost myself within this crazy world of music. I’m not ashamed that I did because I sure learned a lot and had some wonderful experiences from “getting lost.” I wouldn’t trade my path for anything.   From the time I moved to Nashville to today—and everyday moving forward, I’m finding myself again. But I’m not only finding myself, I’m breaking down the box people put me in. I’m also finding positivity in being me instead of negative words and thoughts. I’m blessed beyond measure because I have the most amazing opportunities to work with some of the greatest people. None of us walk with masks on our faces pretending to be someone we’re not...we are who we are. No facade. As I’m preparing for new and upcoming shows, I’ve been focusing on positivity. These performances are going to show who I am. Being free is difficult for me with my “training.” I’m becoming “untrained” as some may call it. Music isn’t about notes or how many fancy pieces you can play—it’s about how you can make someone feel. I’m a musician not a technician. I’ve been trying to get back to the girl who danced and moved and sang with the music for so long. (If you’ve seen me perform, you know I have some crazy moves, but I need to be freer). Finally someone told me I have to make the notes dance. Close my eyes and and get inside each note. Then and only then, will I break free. 

Please surround yourself with positive people. I appreciate quality response whether good or bad. Help me grow, help me become better.  Be the positive role model that you desire to see in others. “Do unto others” … remember?

When negativity starts heading your way, stomp on it like a bunch of grapes and make it grape juice. To all that have gotten lost or feel like life has taken you down the wrong’s okay.  Know that you were supposed to get a little lost.  I challenge you to make the notes dance. Become free. Know why you make music. I’m a big believer in taking care of your primary instrument (yourself) so that you can perform your best with your secondary instrument (whatever you play/sing)...however, when you are playing/singing; that’s when you must become one. Make the notes dance. Fiddle on! Lacie

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