‘I’ve learned that I can act as if I can do anything in the very moment — and then do it.’
“Growing up, I found it very difficult to relate to other children. I suffered from extreme separation anxiety. I also struggled with a speech impediment and a processing delay. I was always ashamed about that.
“Music was a calling for me. It was an itch that needed to be scratched! I was singing ‘Smoke on the Water’ before I could talk. Growing up in the ’90s and 2000s, the dream was to be a Spice Girl while singing Backstreet Boys tunes. Music was always with me because my parents are artists.
“I would listen to my dad’s cassette tapes in the car. Art gave me a voice. My life changed when I started playing the cello at age 10. It was love at first sight. It was the last day of school, and we had to watch the fifth- graders show off their instruments. I ran outside to tell my mother and we told the music teacher.
“Two days later, I was in the Northport summer music program. That instrument gave me an identity and helped me connect with other children.
You have to keep trying until you believe in yourself.
“I got a music scholarship to study at Five Towns College. When I graduated, I didn’t know what to do as a musician, so I unhappily worked for a law firm for seven years.
“Finally, I realized I had to follow my passion. I began teaching privately and playing open mics. I performed songs and posted videos on Facebook. Then I wondered what would happen if I did it professionally.
“Now I play guitar and sing from Northport to places in the New York metro area while going to grad school at Aaron Copland School of Music, where I’m studying to become a music teacher. I also teach cello. I had to embrace my processing delay.
“As a teacher, someone said to me, ‘It’s your superpower.’ It helps me relate better to myself and to children. I try to understand how I can be more understanding and compassionate.
“The hardest thing about my career was walking through that dark tunnel to get to that bright light. I’ve learned that I can act as if I can do anything in the very moment — and then do it.
“I set too many rules for myself. You have to keep trying until you believe in yourself. I’m not perfect, but I’m good enough and I can do this. I teach my students that if they literally pretend in that moment, it actually comes true.”
Interviewed by Iris Wiener