“I don’t remember a time in my life when music was not a part of it. Even though my parents weren’t musically trained, they really appreciated music, so they enrolled all of us [my siblings and I] into music school. I come from a huge family. Being in the middle of six siblings, I would listen to my brother playing guitar, my sister playing her flute, or recorder, or violin, and basically, there was always music in our house. When I turned six, I started singing in a church choir, and since then, I never stopped doing music.
Growing up, my parents never forced me or any of my siblings into our decisions and were always very supportive of us throughout our lives. They would come to every single concert, every single performance. But like any other parent, they wanted me to have a good life, and not struggle too much, so they were like, “Are you sure you want to study language and music, because there might not be a lot of jobs out there for you.” Now, my parents are very proud of me. They even came to [our International Choir Competition in] Maastricht, and watched the concert! That was actually my mom’s first-ever airplane ride! They came and saw us win, so that was incredible.
I think it is important that, if you know that you love something, you go for it. I loved music from very early on, and I think that because I loved it so much I made a good career out of it even though it might not have been the most promising career path. And of course, there is no perfection at any job, but loving what you do makes it so much more fun. I almost never feel at the job that I do “Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to go home.” And not a lot of people have that.
The highlight of my musical career was definitely getting the Choral Conductor’s Prize in Maastricht. It was a highlight and an achievement, but also a big honor. It was a really powerful moment for me because I guess I knew I could do things well, but just never thought that I was that good. The imposter syndrome is real and that’s something we all struggle with. But more importantly, the reward was a recognition of my hard work and dedication, so I was really honored.
As a music teacher and choral director, I see growth on a daily basis. Knowing that I am impacting young people’s lives makes this job so rewarding! Music also has transcendent power, especially when you do it with others. There is this connection that you feel that can’t be described with words, but when you feel it, you never forget it. I think that is something that I feel often, being a music teacher, director, and singer as well. The feeling is so empowering and transforming that it makes all the hard work pay off. This and many other things, like forming relationships, learning from students, and the thrill coming from planning ahead but not being sure how it will turn out, make me love my job so much.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the years [as a teacher and as a conductor] is that you can plan what you will do, how you will do it— to every little detail— and things more often than not don’t go that way. No matter how much I planned the trip [to Washington D.C with the Vocal Ensemble] last year, or we planned to go to the Choral Festival, and present these great pieces, and do all these things, we just needed to adjust, and let it go. It is important to not just give up, but instead find a different way for them to work out, or find other things we can do, like a virtual choir. If plan A doesn’t work, there is always plan B or plan C. The new plan will be different than the first and it might not be perfect, but you might also find it is way better.
The biggest struggle [with being a music teacher and choral director] is deciding who makes the cut in auditions. It’s heartbreaking to let people know that they didn’t make it. I know that it can really affect the singer’s self-esteem. It’s also a very nerve-wracking experience for some very talented singers, so they decide not to try out.
Throughout my career I have thought a lot of three amazing teachers who always inspired me by pushing me further than I thought I could go, but also showed me respect and cared for me. Being a teacher, I see how that impacted me, and I hope I can somehow encourage you guys to go further, be a better person and be kind to yourself.
I have one piece of advice I would give to my students: don’t take anything for granted, learn to forgive, go in front of the mirror and tell yourself how great you are from time to time. And most importantly, be silly and try to make yourself and others laugh as often as possible.” — Ms. Horn