ArtSmart mentor Angela Jarosz describes how the curiosity to learn makes her a better performer.

I was born into a musical family. My mother is a pianist and my father a trombone player. Music was a language they shared, and it was important to them that their children should all learn to speak it too. I began learning the viola in school at 9 years old, and by the time I was 12 I was playing in a string quartet at home with my three sisters. Music taught us how to be a team, how to collaborate to reach a common goal, how to better communicate with each other. I’ve been singing as long as I can remember, but I started studying singing when I was 13-years-old, so that I could compete in the annual Wisconsin School Music Association Competition. My parents got me a private singing teacher. We were constantly surrounded by classical music in our house, but it was my teacher who introduced me to vocal classical music. I took to it like a fish to water. I felt like this was music that belonged only and specifically to me. I would rent VHS’s of operas from our local library and watch them in our basement, glued to the TV. I was lucky enough after working very hard, with the unrelenting support of my parents, to receive a merit scholarship to attend the music conservatory at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Later, I received another scholarship to continue my studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

One of my favorite things about studying vocal music is how it connects everything. Vocal music is math, poetry, art, history, drama and language study. Translating poetry and stumbling across idioms in other languages and trying to figure out the context in which something was originally written, all helps one to cultivate a curious mind. If you have a curious mind, you can learn anything. Music connects us to each other now by giving us all a communal experience and also to people who lived hundreds of years ago who thought and wrote in a different language.

To be an opera singer like I am now means to be a perpetual student. We are always refining, perfecting, striving to do it better this time then we did it last time. This was a mantra I repeated daily during successes and pitfalls as I studied at Roosevelt University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and as I’ve plowed ahead in the unpredictable life of a professional singer. When I started teaching, that dynamic was turned on its head, which helped me consolidate my gains. There’s no way to know how much you have learned on your journey, until you are faced with someone at the beginning of their own. A lifelong passion was ignited when I found what I love doing; I’m happy to be helping others along on their way.

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By Angela Jarosz, ArtSmart Mentor  |  Published on 08/17/2020