Healing With Music
How a family tragedy ignited an old dream.
Lynn Gillitzer enjoys helping people as a customer service representative at American Family Insurance — but she also dreams fearlessly in pursuit of another passion: music. Music has always been part of Lynn’s life, but she hadn’t formally pursued it until a series of personal losses helped her realize life is too short not to do what you love.
When she reflects on where her passion for music originated, Lynn is transported back to her childhood, watching her father pluck a banjo and tune his violin strings.
“Music was a big part of my life growing up. Either it was my dad playing an instrument, listening to the radio or my siblings playing their records. I’m the youngest of eight so I got exposed to a lot of music,” Lynn says.
And while Lynn’s parents couldn’t afford music lessons or band instruments, that didn’t stop her from singing and learning how to play piano by herself. Her love for music remained steadfast throughout college, where she started as a vocal major and took piano lessons. But marriage and her three children eventually took her down a different path and put music on the backburner. The flame of her passion never extinguished, and it later resurfaced into something even more meaningful.
“My brother committed suicide in 1999. He was an artist and could paint beautiful pictures. He also played guitar, but he never pursued a career with art or music. He worked in a factory and did work he didn’t enjoy, so that’s another driving force behind being true to myself and doing what I love.”
Shortly after her brother’s death, both of Lynn’s parents also passed away. And that’s when the flame really reignited. She started pursuing music again — this time using it as a message.
Lynn fulfilled a lifelong dream as a singer/songwriter when she completed her full-length album of original songs called Reflections.
“Music is healing, and my album Reflections is a concept album focusing on mental health and suicide prevention. I’ve lost my brother to suicide and have dealt with anxiety and depression of my own. We need to unmask the stigma of mental illness and talk about it.” Her album is one way to do just that.
Around this time, Lynn decided to go back to school at Globe University, where she earned an associate’s degree in music business, and was introduced to Ladies Rock Camp, a fundraiser for the Girls Rock Camp in Madison, Wis. Girls Rock Camp is a week-long camp for girls ages 8-18, where they learn an instrument, form a band, and write and perform a song.
“Ladies Rock Camp is the same, but compressed into a three-day weekend. Participating was extremely empowering. I stepped outside of my comfort zone, and it made a difference! I met some dynamic ladies and networked with extremely talented Madison musicians.”
Though Lynn admits she was terrified to start, she was hooked right away and has attended the camp for the last five years. She even inspired her nine-year-old granddaughter to attend the Girls Rock Camp, where she picked up playing drums.
Ladies Rock Camp is also where Lynn met her bandmates for her band 6.4 Sunday. “A few of us ladies were bored in the middle of winter, so I put up a Facebook post for ideas on what we could do and one of them replied that we should start a band. We’ve been practicing and playing ever since.”
Even though they perform on a limited basis, Lynn says 6.4 Sunday has been an adventure and one that continues to give her confidence.
Practicing mindfulness, along with music and creativity, is something Lynn supports and encourages. To someone pursuing a dream, she advises, “You just have to take the plunge and start somewhere, even if it’s just 30 minutes a day. Start and see how fast it grows. Anything is possible.”
Lynn’s musical journey continues to evolve in the most surprising ways. She recently made a video for one of her songs, “Mothers and Daughters,” as a tribute to her mother. It was a project she did with her daughter, Liz Gillitzer, who edited the video. And her song “Paradise Alley,” tells of music being her paradise.
Through the adversity Lynn faced — the unexpected death of her brother, and the passing of her parents — she realized the importance of being true to yourself and pursuing what makes your heart sing.
She encourages people of all ages to ask themselves ‘What ignites a spark in me to step outside my comfort zone?’ Whatever it may be, Lynn says, “You’re never too old to do what you love and life is too short to be unhappy.”
You can find Lynn’s album, Reflections, on iTunes and CD Baby.
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