You know how John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans?” That’s how I became a musician and music teacher.
When I was 13, I became a counselor in training at my summer day camp, every morning my sister Barb and I would sit in a circle playing guitar and singing songs with the campers. Within a couple of weeks, the director had me teaching music and drama classes. I didn’t think of it as a career path though, I just thought I was having fun with the kids.
In college I studied psychology and thought I’d eventually become a therapist. I loved my classes, the many activities available on campus and found myself drawn in particular to people who played music. I started writing songs and made regular trips to the used record store. Then I started showing up at dorm coffeehouses and asking to perform. My hands would shake so badly from nerves, I could hardly play but by the time I was done and walking off the stage I would always think, “I want to do that again!” Little did I know, this meant I was screwed for life! LOL
A year or so after I graduated college, I spent a couple of months traveling through Europe with a backpack, guitar and Eurail Pass. I played music on the streets and in youth hostels and was amazed and moved by the people I met who had no investment in liking what I did, but kept me up to the wee hours playing song after song. It gave me the confidence to make my first demo tape when I got home (yep, a cassette with 4 songs on it) I started making trips to the post office to send out press kits and my journey of being a performing songwriter began. Now 30+ years later I still can’t help but do what I need to do to get on stages and play from time to time. See what I mean about being screwed for life?
After I’d been performing on the folk circuit for a couple of years, I was asked to apply for the music specialist position at the local JCC summer camp. The first time I met with a group of campers to sing, I felt like I’d come home. And still I was thinking that I’d teach until I got “famous.”
But over the years I started to notice that just about every teaching job I got was one where someone asked me to apply. And when I wasn’t teaching I missed it terribly. In the fall of 1998 I decided to move in the direction of teaching full time. I realized that teaching completes the creative circle for me; when I’m teaching, I’m happier and write more.
By the fall of 1999 I was teaching, writing and performing music full time and haven’t looked back.
Since the 80s, I’ve had the honor of traveling the country performing at coffeehouses and festivals and a few years ago I toured Spain. I’ve taught both guitar and piano to people as young as 4 and as old as 89.
And now I’ve founded my own music school, Janet’s Planet: Music Lessons for Humanoids, Inc.TM On Janet’s Planet, I continue to offer private lessons, monthly jam sessions, retreat weekends and perform concerts. And in 2016, my husband John and I began leading small groups of people on vacation tours to Ireland, our Ireland Site & Music Excursion – A Cultural Immersion Experience.