“I had wanted to be a star musical performer when in high school, but the bar went down a few notches once I was out on my own and found it was a big deal just to be able to hold down a job and earn enough to take care of my basic needs. I first worked in minimum wage jobs but then tripled my income by going into construction and working as an electrician (non-union). I got burned out on that after a few years, no pun intended. It was fun, but hard physically day in and day out. Eventually, I went to school to earn a paralegal certificate and considered myself to have succeeded: I was in a long-term relationship and working in a field that utilized my writing and advocacy skills. I would occasionally go into the studio with a co-producer (Kevin Harris at Harwood Productions) to record my songs which I put onto my first CD. I did that by using Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success to guide me. I love creativity, paying attention to my dreams, and exploring the unconscious and spirituality, but how to find or build a bridge between that and the money-making work-a-day world was still a mystery to me. 

One spring a few years back, I was in my garage looking for old income tax returns and came across my creative journals. I still thought of myself as an artist, but I had not been actively pursuing creative endeavors for some time. I realized I was bored with what I knew on the guitar, so I enrolled in some classes at Santa Monica College and started to learn music theory and piano. Learning to play the piano woke me up creatively; I took all the piano classes I could while working. I soon found I could not get any further at the local community colleges because they required daytime attendance, so I took a one-off class called Recording and Producing in the Home Studio at Berklee Online and recorded “Who Made It Be That Way” in the class. Thrilled by what I was able to do after just that one class, I applied to Berklee’s online degree program. They had been offering degrees in Recording only, but just as I had decided to apply anyway, the online education universe exploded, and Berklee began offering all kinds of degrees. I ultimately chose Interdisciplinary Studies in Music, and I’m one class away from a Bachelors now (thanks to CLEP exams which I’m planning to take to meet the math and science requirements). I’m now in the process of building that bridge between my creativity and the work-a-day world.”

 – Mary Ann