Last June, Grade 12 student Allyson Whitmell was chatting with her mom about her upcoming final year at CDS and her plans for the future. Her mother told her, “It’s an open road for you”, which gave Allyson an idea.
“I heard those words and knew I had to go write a song that would be an analogy for my future theme of facing a cross-roads,” recalls Allyson. That’s exactly where she felt she was, on the brink of her final year of high school, while experiencing all kinds of emotions about the unknown journey ahead.
Meanwhile, Allyson was also about to embark on a more immediate short-term journey – a five-day Songwriting Workshop at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. The session drew 300 students from around the world and allowed students to sign up for different electives, including musical theatre, film composition and recording.
“I brought my song “Open Road” with me to Berklee and polished it further that week with my mentor,” said Allyson. At the end of the week, she performed it at the open mike in front of her peers. The whole experience has inspired her to write more songs and keep a song book to record lyrics as they come to her.
What she loved most about her week in Boston was being with so many like-minded people. They really helped her to understand the many different approaches to songwriting. According to Allyson, the opportunity to learn from so many talented Berklee professors was an absolute privilege. In fact, one of them had even taught John Mayer when he was a student.
An Associate of The Royal Conservatory of Music (ARCT), Allyson has played piano for the past 11 years and views the piano as a “gateway to everything musical, as a performer, composer and researcher.” She is particularly interested in pursuing music therapy and the relationship between music and the mind. “Everything is possible with music. I want to help people with everything I do through my desire to play music.”
She is definitely on to something, as studies have shown that music is not only therapeutic for many ailments, but also good for the soul. Take Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s for example. Research has shown that music is not only be beneficial to patients, but helps with the movement and emotional aspects of these diseases.
Allyson hasn’t decided on what university she will be studying at next fall, but is set on pursuing a music degree at one of the top music programs she has been accepted to. We wish her great success and hope she continues to write music for years to come!