As a college student, I think it is essential that I challenge myself by pushing myself out of my comfort level in order to learn. Last year, I was comfortable in my stable friend group, my major was clearly mapped out in my head, and I had a concrete plan for my future. This year, much has changed. I have become much more independent of my friend group, tried to branch out in meeting more people, especially in being an RA in a freshman dorm. I have integrated myself more with the basketball team, I have changed my major, and I have embraced higher expectations from my two jobs. And, although I have learned much from these challenges, I desired for a Hillsdale experience in the most holistic way. I wanted to produce something – claim something as my own. So, I signed up for two music classes: private piano lessons, and voice class. Having taken piano before, I had already known what to expect in myself. However, I really did not know if I could sing well or confidently in front of people, so taking the Beginning Voice Lesson forced me out of my comfort zone.
Throughout this semester, I have learned to incorporate my singing into the habits of daily life. In the past, I have had experience with singing. In elementary school, I took lessons with a homeschool teacher in a big group of people. In middle school, I joined my church’s middle school choir. When I listened to music with my sisters, we would all make it an event and sing-along. In addition, both my parents play the guitar, and every so often the whole family would come together to sing. Now, since I have been away from home, I have missed the joys of singing because I had not yet formed habits or groups with which to sing. After joining Beginning Voice Lesson, I have been able to see more opportunities for me to sing. Even though I have not gone out of my way to form new habits, I have been more aware of my voice and how I can incorporate sharing it in my daily life. At church, I have begun to be more conscientious of my voice and how I sing. I have been able to find more joys through singing at church because I make it a point to sound nice and confident. Also, I have attended more music events at the college because I have been more attentive to the music programs at Hillsdale. Thus, through taking Beginning Voice Lesson, I have been able to expand my horizon and experience things which I would have normally missed because I have been exposed to music.
Now, my voice has given me more ways of being joyful. When it is nice and sunny outside, I love to be active and play sports outside. But when it is rainy, gloomy, or cold, I can’t really do much of that. Instead, I know I can always go to a practice room inside and sing. Singing reminds me of all of the fun times I have had with my family. Especially when I listen to and sing Indie Rock songs, I am reminded of the times I drove my siblings to the beach with the car windows rolled down, and the times when I was the DJ on one of our big family road trips. Thus, through being more aware of my voice and music, I have been able to remember the little joys I once shared with my siblings and family.
Embracing my new ideal in experiencing Hillsdale in the most holistic way has helped me approach life at school with much more joy. Through singing, I have been able to remember the fun times with my loved ones, even though I will not see them for a long time. This summer, whenever I get homesick and want to think of the great times with my family, I now have a solution. I can sing the old campfire and Indie rock summer songs I used to sing with my family and remind myself of the emotions of happiness and joy and feel when I am with my family.
Jessica De Gree
Jessica teaches 5th grade English and History as well as 11th grade Spanish III at a Great Hearts Academy in Glendale, AZ. In addition to teaching, she coaches JV girls basketball and is a writing tutor for The Classical Historian Online Academy. Jessica recently played basketball professionally in Tarragona, Spain, where she taught English ESL and tutored Classical Historian writing students. In 2018, she received her Bachelor's degree in English and Spanish from Hillsdale College, MI.