Music has the incredible power to affect one’s heart and soul


By Michael Hawes

My name is Michael Hawes. I grew up in a musical family;
my mother a singer and my father a bass trombonist. For as long as I can remember, there has been music in my house.

I started playing the trumpet in fourth grade and was very privileged to study with Barbara Butler at Northwestern University for my undergraduate degree. At the end of my freshman year at Northwestern, I suffered an overuse injury after playing too much and not resting enough throughout my days at school. I had torn my orbicularis oris muscle, the complex of muscles in the lips that encircles the mouth. It took several months to find a doctor who could diagnose and help repair the injury. Finally, a doctor in Toronto performed surgery to repair the muscle. For the next four months I was off the horn completely.

Due to this injury, I was unable to play to the extent I was able to before, and this lasted for several years. I started singing in choirs at school and taking voice lessons to remain involved in music. Meanwhile, while I was rehabilitating my lip and very slowly gaining strength back on the trumpet.

Fast forward five years — I feel very lucky that I am able to play the trumpet again, let alone at the possibility of a career in the music world. In some ways (though hard to admit to myself sometimes!), the injury was a blessing in disguise, as I now consider singing to be a huge part of my life.

I am incredibly grateful to my family and all my teachers at Northwestern for supporting and guiding me through the tougher times in college, as many times I wondered how nice it may feel to toss my trumpets in the lake and walk away! But, I knew I would always regret it.

I now am a freelance singer and trumpet player at various venues around Chicago, playing and singing with the Music of the Baroque Chorus, Chicago Symphony Chorus, Grant Park Chorus, and was recently cast in an opera with the Haymarket Opera company.

As for my thoughts on music, I think that music has the incredible power to affect one’s heart and soul, to bring you up (or just keep you company) when you’re feeling down, and to inspire you to infinite heights. It also is one of the few things in our world that we can all relate to. If there is one thing we need in our world, it is friendship and teamwork, and music can bring people together, whether it be listening on the radio, in the concert hall, or performing together. It has no boundaries, and knows no race, religion or political beliefs. Music has the power to bring us closer together, if we let it, and for me to think of myself as a musician, I am a very lucky man.

Michael Hawes is a freelance musician in Chicago, IL

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