A master musician finds an unexpected outlet
A form of communication that powers the world’s most dynamic ideas. A common vocabulary that everyone understands.
What is the universal language? Around the world, humans speak almost 7,000 different ones.
What’s the one form of expression that anyone from any background understands instantly?
A Passion Becomes Punishing
For the first part of her life, Olivia Lemmelin was sure that her universal language was music.
From an early age, she spent her days and nights practicing the violin. Olivia quickly learned that total perfection was expected every time and that deviations were not welcomed.
When she got older and began participating in musical competitions, the stakes became even higher. She began to equate missing notes with total failure. The anxiety was exhausting.
I NEEDED SOMETHING ELSE IN MY LIFE TO SUPPORT MYSELF
“Sometime during my master’s, I started thinking about things more intellectually,” Olivia said. “I just wasn’t enjoying the stressful environment. Everything you played had to be 100% perfect.”
In theory, music is a transcendent medium that cuts across all cultural and linguistic boundaries. But in practice?
Olivia — who excelled at playing music in high school, majored in violin performance in college and obtained a master’s degree in the same — was experiencing difficulty making ends meet with her passion.
“I needed something else in my life to support myself,” she said. “I can’t be that starving musician who lives in a tiny apartment and can’t do anything.”
Olivia was coming to an important conclusion: Music is a form of expression that allows artists to access the universal. But how can an artist be fulfilled if she lives in constant stress about meeting her most basic needs?
Necessity Leads to Discovery
Always resourceful, Olivia began to research new careers. And she kept hearing about coding.
“Programming is something where I can use the creativity that I’ve always had, and that I always used in music,” she explained.
But after attending a 12-week coding bootcamp, Olivia had a revelation. Though the rules of programming are firm and fixed, the possibilities of how you can use them? Well, the potential is truly infinite.
IT’S A COLLABORATION WITH OTHER PEOPLE ALONG WITH THE CREATIVE ASPECT OF IT
The master violinist suddenly gained a new appreciation for what it truly means to be creative. Those violin competitions that she had attended for years demanded absolute perfection. Deviations were considered mistakes. And improvisations? Those were simply out of the question.
That’s not the case with programming. As Olivia began to work as a mentor and as a consultant for her clients, she noticed something. In programming, “out of the box” thinking and creative problem-solving is encouraged. Even rewarded. Olivia couldn’t believe the paradox.
“It’s not this critical idea that every little thing you’re doing has to be 100% perfect like music competitions were,” she said. “In programming, you create something and you’re creating it for a client. You’re not in a competition, and you’re losing points because you played one wrong note. It’s a collaboration with other people along with the creative aspect of it.
Spreading the Joy of Coding
Lately, Olivia has rediscovered the joy of music — by doing it for fun.
“I’m still a musician. I’m still a violinist. It’s a huge passion in my life,” she said. “But now I have two passions: music and programming.”
I’M STABLE IN EVERY PART OF MY LIFE, BUT I’M ALSO CREATIVE
The best part? In Olivia’s own words: “I’m stable in every little part of my life, but I’m also creative.”
Today, Olivia spreads that passion and creativity by serving as a mentor. She loves the spark she sees in her students. And as their teacher, she loves to nurture it.
These days, the furious clicking of keyboards as passionate students create lines of code and secure their futures — that’s Olivia’s favorite new type of music.
Connect with Olivia on LinkedIn here
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