My Life Story - Part 1

Hi Gorgeous, how are you doing?

My Life Story Part 1

First of all I'm very happy to talk to you and my name is Sunghee Stepak.

First of all let me introduce myself to you so you can get to know me a little bit and also you can find out how my blog can benefit you.

I currently live in Nanoose Bay, British Columbia, Canada, it's a very beautiful place to be and I am very happily married to a very lovely man, Neil.

The things I enjoy are listening to music, playing piano, singing, making delicious vegetable and fruit dishes, making homemade cold process soap, stretching & exercising, dancing, watching documentary & biographical films, and reading self-help & biography books.
I like all kinds of music including pop, heavy rock, bluegrass, folk, country, old time songs especially 50's, jazz, gospel, new age, classical, R&B, etc.

I started teaching singing and piano since I was 20 years old, so I've been teaching singing and piano a little over 27 years now. Time really files.

This is my personal story about how and why I became a singer & pianist(musician) and music teacher and why music education is so important(it's crucial!) to everyone and how you can benefit from my blog.

My Life Story Part 1-2

- How Music have Healed Me from Childhood Abuse: My Childhood

I was born and grew up in South Korea until I was 23 years old. My father worked abroad when I was a young girl for years, so my mother raised me and my two younger sisters with the help of living in nannies.

My Life Story Part 1-3

I was a very shy girl who was afraid to speak to anyone. Through out my school life I didn't have the guts to speak up nor to express my opinions nor to ask questions to others, because I was too shy and afraid to speak up. I was so nervous when I had to talk to anyone. My heart was racing, cheeks were flushed with chocking feeling in my throat. And needless to say speaking in public was literally impossible for me.

I had an introverted personality and to make it worse my mother had abused my siblings and me physically, verbally, mentally and emotionally through out my childhood and teenage years.

Singing and Piano Lessons My Life Story - Part 1-4 

A lot of beatings were going on periodically. They were not light controlled hitting with a stick. When doors were slammed by the wind, she ran after me and kicked me, pushed me down to the floor, hit me with all kinds of objects, pulled my hair until my body got bruised everywhere with blaming me that I intentionally slammed the door because I was angry at her even though the doors were slammed by the wind. One of the hitting episodes was so bad, I thought to myself that dying must be like this. I wept until I couldn't cry anymore and I was determined to leave South Korea someday far away from my family. No one was getting along well and the home was filled with anger, hatred and misery. Everybody was constantly bickering and fighting all the time.
Mom's usual daily remarks were 'You are so stupid', 'I cannot believe how ugly you are', etc. and hearing those comments over and over again for years I started to believe her hurtful destructive comments unconsciously and they really damaged my self-esteem especially when I became a teenager girl.

I was not doing so well at school academically with very low self-esteem and a negative view about myself.

Singing and Piano Lessons My Life Story - Part 1-5 

Also I hated going to school because unfortunately teachers were also allowed to hit children in South Korea. It sounds insane, but as I know teachers can still hit students at school till this day in South Korea. I remember that I got a pretty bad mark-I answered corrected only 50% of the test- in physics class in high school, and there were about 30 questions in that test and the chemistry teacher -he was a very big, tall man- hit both hands of children who scored lower than 70% as many as the number of the incorrect answers with a thick long metal bar looking like a steel pipe. During hitting I burst into tears with excruciating pain and after my hands got hit 15 times with the metal bar, for a couple of days I was not able to hold objects in my hands because my palms were so swollen with a lot of pain.

Being hit at home and also at school made me more introverted, quiet, powerless and fearful about everything & everyone in life.

- How I started to play piano
I was 6 years old and my mom took my younger sister and I to a piano academy.

My Life Story - Part 1-6 Singing and Piano Lessons  

I recall the mixed emotions of excitement, curiosity and at the same time a nervous resistant feeling of learning something new. My sister was 2 years younger than me, however she played piano so much better than me. I didn't like the rigid repetitive classical training based on strict sight reading but I kept on going until age 13. Even though I did not like the cookie-cutter stereo type of classical method, it definitely gave me a solid foundation of music and helped me to be a better musician.

- How I started to sing
Then when I was in grade 3 one beautiful late fall afternoon the school was over and I was ready to go home, I heard such a beautiful captivating sound that was coming from somewhere in the school building. I followed the mysterious sound to find out where it was coming from. It was almost as if my body was taken over and I was walking unconsciously and effortlessly towards the divine sound. I was mesmerized by it. And it turned out to be the sound of school choir! What a stunning sound!

My Life Story - Part 1-7 Singing and Piano Lessons
So the very next day I signed up for an audition for the choir but I didn't pass the audition that year. However I was just happy that I had the courage to take the audition that first year to be honest as a very shy girl. Because I wanted to sing in that choir so badly, I secretly started to sing by myself when nobody was around. That year singing was all I wanted to do and all I was thinking about.
However I had a big problem. My voice was just too wimpy and quiet with no power. I mean when I sang I felt my throat was closing up with chocking sensation in my throat. Even though no one was listening to my singing, I was having a similar reaction to having a conversation with someone.
I wanted to sing in that choir desperately, so I practice and practice for about a year and I found some very basic methods to open up my voice with more power on my own. And the very next year I was accepted to the choir.
However during choir classes there was no guidance nor instruction about how to improve my singing. It was just a place to listen to the accompaniment(piano) and sing along on key as well as possible with the given music.

Through out my school years-from elementary to high school-I went to school because of music classes and school choirs. Music comforted me, made me feel relived. Singing made me feel peaceful and hopeful by letting out sadness and fear. During the music and choir classes I was able to forget about hitting and all kinds of abuse.
Over the years singing helped me speak up for myself and gain confidence immensely and I am profoundly thankful for that.

Alive Inside

I strongly believe in the power of Music and I recommend you to watch the movie, 'Alive Inside' which is about the music's ability to restore memory loss and a sense of self and it has an extremely powerful and touching message.

To be continued in Part 2 . .

Do you have a favourite song - Singing And Piano Lessons

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