My Music. My Story. is one of Classical Music Indy’s initiatives to feature music, musicians, and music lovers in a fun way. This week we are featuring Eloise Paul, a Career Mentor at the Andre B. Lacy School of Business at Butler University, and Board Member of Classical Music Indy. She shares with us how music has helped her throughout her life, why she became involved with Classical Music Indy, and why the arts are important to Indianapolis.
Eloise Paul: My Music. My Story.
What is your favorite kind of music and why?
I love many kinds of music. Of course, I love classical music and grew up listening to classical music and playing it on the piano. Growing up in the 60s and 70s, I love classic rock and have always enjoyed the music of Motown.
What does music mean to you?
Music tells and allows us to express the story of our lives. It is the sound of our emotions and feelings. It comforts us and exhilarates us. It allows us to express ourselves far beyond our vocabulary. It lets us share AND express our deepest feelings. It has no language barriers—it’s universal.
How has music influenced your life?
I think music helps you understand other cultures and lifestyles different from one’s own. I grew up with my mom playing classical music on piano, and I took piano lessons from an early age. My teacher only taught classical music, so I grew up practicing it. Later, I started playing the flute and was in both the band and orchestra in high school. Mr. Dennis, the orchestra conductor, was in Henry Mancini’s band. I remember learning (or trying to learn) to play Night on Bald Mountain and Ravel’s Bolero. The next time I saw the Wizard of Oz—I recognized Night on Bald Mountain and it really opened me up to listening to the background music on TV and movies in a whole new way.
I’ve travelled internationally frequently and love listening to the music of other cultures—and hearing it again reminds me of some of those trips.
When I was in my 30s I had an emergency surgery. I was in a lot of pain for several months afterward and the only music I could listen to during that period was classical music. It was a very strange thing. Even some of my favorite rock songs made me feel uncomfortable. I had always loved Mozart, but developed a new appreciation for the music of Bach. Somehow it felt that listening to classical music was helping my body heal. It felt soothing and relaxing in a way that nothing else did.
Do you have a favorite performance you’ve attended?
I have had season tickets to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for years—so of course there have been many amazing performances there. I’ve always loved listening to and watching Andre Watts. He is simply amazing. When I was teaching at IU, he was at dinner in Bloomington at the next table. I really wanted to talk to him but felt he deserved his privacy. You can just see that he puts his whole being into his music.
What inspired you to get involved with Classical Music Indy?
I think classical music is an under-appreciated resource in our community. A good friend of mine, Kelli Norwalk, was working for Classical Music Indy and asked me to become involved. We are such an amazing organization! I can’t think of an organization that does more with less! I absolutely believe that having classical music as part of the Indianapolis community is a critical component to attracting and retaining bright people to this community. I think the ability to listen to free classical music as well as the ability to hear live concerts makes classical music more accessible to those who have never been exposed to it previously. For those who have not had the exposure to classical music previously, there is a misconception that it is inaccessible, or for old people, or not understandable. But for all the young people who have seen the Nutcracker or Swan Lake—that should be the start of their exposure to classical music, not the end.
I think music education is very important to our society’s growth and development. I think it broadens children’s outlook on the world, and I think hearing live performances really engages young people.
Why do you feel it’s important to be a patron of the arts?
The arts, including classical music, other types of performance arts, as well as visual arts enrich the community. I’ve lived in Indianapolis most of my life and I want to give back to my community. The arts are consistently underfunded and one of the first programs cut when cuts have to be made. I want to see the arts flourish here.
How do you think music benefits the community?
Music benefits the community in so many ways! it is the background to our lives—I can’t even imagine TV, movies or video games without music—they help tell the story. My nephew is getting his Ph.D. in neuroscience and his focus is on the brain and music. Music therapy as a form of healing is just beginning to open our minds to all the possibilities music can provide to improve our lives.
This month’s blog posts are made possible by the Eloise Paul Women in Music Fund.