I think I've finally found my sound.
Writing and playing music isn't tedious anymore like it was back in high school. I now understand that playing to an audience now means playing to a group of people who have hearts and minds that may or may not share the same emotions explored in the music I create. The audience is not a panel of New South Wales' elite musical education experts (who aren't allowed to show signs of encouragement in case of bias).
It's almost like my appreciation for musical cooperation has heightened and I no longer feel the need to hide away from allowing my music to intertwine with the creations of other artists.
I'm proud to say I've become a lot more confident to play music in front of people and though not perfect, I feel as though sharing my music is exposing all my vulnerability yet allowing human reaction and interaction to soothe my inner tensions.
All throughout my senior years, the HSC killed the artistic side of music for me. I had precision-based singers all around me. Younger girls who had out- of-this-world talent that I could hardly measure up to. I couldn't sing in key and that was my biggest problem. I would get literally half of the mark that other music students were getting. I felt forced down a path I was so uncomfortable walking on. The direction changed from expression to perfection.
Forcing myself to do things by the book, I reaped a grunge song of its angst and heart. I sang Heart Shaped Box by Nirvana for the performance night. I toned it down and made the song sound piss-weak and boring just so I could control my pitch. I then sang Lua by Bright Eyes for my exam and instead of singing in a natural, raw and passionate voice, I ended up sounding ridiculously lifeless - again, to control my pitch. I ruined a beautiful, realistic song with heavy lyrics and turned it into some shitty acoustic pop number. It was like I was moulding my song choices in a generic, refined template and once it had been moulded, it could not be reshaped like the stubbornness and fragility of clay. In hindsight, I realise that I didn't enjoy being me simply because I wasn't being me at all.
I'm glad I'm no longer confined by marking criteria, green gates and an "educational" system that was so academically-obsessed they missed all the great sports people, artists and musicians that came out of their very classrooms and fields. A system that would spend all its money on a new I.T. centre when the walls in the music room were cracked, the equipment in the gym outdated and the accessibility to practical experience futile and/or unsupported.
At the end of the day, I probably won't be the one making a living out of writing and playing music but at least I know I won't ever let myself lose my hunger for artistic excitement, innovation and reinvention.