In 2008, at the age of fourteen, Shelly Gage began pursuing the art of music. She signed up for piano and voice lessons at the Florida Conservatory of Music. As time passed, Shelly’s skills increased to an intermediate level, allowing her to audition for and attend America’s three-time grammy award winning, number-one
performing arts high school: Douglas Anderson.
During her time at the school, Shelly was given many opportunities to expand her musical repertoire. She learned classic pieces composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, and Frédéric Chopin.
Studying all of these composers not only allotted Shelly with knowledge of their musical eras, but gave her insight into the technique behind structuring music to “make it make sense.”
Although studying piano music created by the above composers seems like enough mental stimulation for Shelly to begin experimenting with her own creative
capabilities, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Shelly didn’t start composing and arranging piano music until she took a break from playing and left Douglas Anderson’s piano department in 2011.
“I got really burnt out,” Shelly explains, “The repertoire was getting harder and harder, and because of my poor vision and lack of a private teacher,
I was having trouble keeping up. I couldn’t read music like the other students in my class — and I didn’t want to be one of those people who just got by.
I wanted to work and accomplish things, not just sit around and waste time.” At the beginning of her junior year, Shelly, then, made the decision to audition
for and transfer to Douglas Anderson’s
vocal department .
As her time as a classical voice student increased, Shelly began to realize just what an extraordinary art vocal music is.
“I was stunned,” she says, “I
had never been a part of something so big and beautiful. Before I became more involved with voice, I pretty much spent my entire time as a musician working alone, which, now that I think about it, is a shame — creating music is exponentially more amazing when it’s done with others. It’s an incredibly intense
and rewarding experience. You’re able to feel each other’s energy, and you know that everyone is just as passionate about the music as you are. You can feel it in your entire body — and after you’re finished with a performance, a title wave of pride and contentment just sweeps over you, because, by the reaction of the audience, you know you made the music do its job.”
After studying classical vocal technique, as well as solo and group pieces in the languages of English, Latin, Italian, German, and French, and taking part in many different performances, including one at the Jacksonville, Florida Symphony in December of 2012, Shelly’s love for music deepened, immensely.
She desperately wanted to create her own music that would have the same pull and emotional appeal vocal music had on her. As a result of her overwhelming thirst to create, Shelly finally returned to the piano and made her start as a composer. In November of 2012, she finished
her first-ever instrumental piece, which later became the start of her first opus. It is titled, “For the One I Love, Op. 1 No. 1,” and can be heard here.