Imagine having a family of singers, guitarists, and musicians that all contribute to your family heritage. Madison Brown can indeed say this is her life.
Brown, the second-year vocalist who resides in Long Beach, Calif., originally entered Whittier College in 2020 seeking to pursue a major in History, believing it was something her parents wanted. However, as the impact of COVID-19 rose in severity, Brown impulsively decided to switch majors in 2021. As she stared at her laptop screen, her heart began to race, and she began to cry when she realized she was actually terrified to pursue her interest and love for music as a developing Music major.
Although Brown was terrified, she ultimately learned a lesson during the pandemic. “COVID-19 really forced me to pick something that I wanted to work on and I wanted to hone my skills on, and music was there for me,” she said. Although she had reason to believe that her parents would not approve of her choice to pursue musical theater, she realized this couldn’t be farther from the truth. During this change, her family did indeed support Brown, and she realized that she had all the support she needed. However, she realizes many individuals like her do not have the same support systems. Brown has some advice for those without support systems: “You only live once, and life is too short to be listening to people who don’t support you or believe in you. You just need to do it. Jump in and see what happens.”
Brown did not only use music to sharpen her singing skills during the COVID-19 pandemic; music and singing have always impacted Brown emotionally. As she reflected on her childhood during our conversation, Brown recalled much of her youth being filled with singing from her parents and other loved ones as they would sing in their church choir. Most of her family joined their church choirs, and this contributed to the musical foundation her family has built for her.
Despite the fact that music and singing brought many great memories during her childhood, Brown, at the same time, had to deal with her parent’s divorce. It was during this drastic change that Brown experienced sadness and used it as fuel to overcome this challenging time. Brown admitted, “I was sad and didn’t know what to do, so I just sang, sang, and sang.” Brown speaks for many who use music as a form of therapy. Regardless of whether people use music to sing, dance, or simply listen, music can allow individuals to process and overcome difficult experiences and emotions.
What happens when music is your safety net yet, at the same time you experience the turmoil of self-doubt and insecurities when you are rejected for certain auditions and roles? Brown mentioned her struggle with rejections as the pandemic had just begun and many of the auditions she participated in began to transition into virtual ones. Brown expressed, “I got a lot of no’s and I know why. My headshots weren’t always the best and I had to learn how to audition virtually because that is where theater is going now. It is becoming more virtual now.” However, Brown acknowledged that rejections, nevertheless, will be a part of the learning process for those who are in Musical Theater fields or pursuing a musical career. There will be a significant amount of rejections until finally, an opportunity will make its way to you. Brown mentioned ways she has conquered feeling defeated, “I try not to take it personally. One thing I have tried to tell myself is [ . . . ] it’s just not your time yet. Your time will come around, and that is okay.”
Brown is a perfect example of many undergraduate students who are beginning to understand their true ambitions and interests while simultaneously feeling they should seek the paths their parents may wish for them to pursue. In the end, Brown made the decision to choose her own path, and she has been the happiest she can be as she continues to pursue her love for music at Whittier College.
Featured Image Courtesy of Madison Brown / Quaker Campus