Student Spotlight – Alicia Williams: Accident Expands Passion

by Rebekah Erway

Alicia Williams strives to glorify God and encourage others with music despite challenges playing the instrument of her choice. Williams had to change her major after a neck injury left her unable to play the piano regularly.

Williams came to Cedarville last year from the Akron area as a freshman keyboard pedagogy major with dreams of starting a piano studio. She said she loved playing the piano as a child but did not enjoy learning it. She struggled with theory and certain technical aspects and wants to help future students by teaching them in a fun way.

“That’s why I wanted to be a piano teacher, and in a bigger, broader sense a music teacher,” she said. “I don’t care if they switch to another instrument, I just want them to enjoy music. I want them to enjoy it like I do.”

Williams, who is now a vocal major, said she envisions herself as a Maria Von Trapp type teacher, from “The Sound of Music.” Williams’ roommate, Bethany Blair, said the enjoyment of music is a part of who Williams is. She said when Williams is not playing music, she is listening to it, and she uses music to encourage herself.

“I feel like there’s a conversation between her and music,” Blair said. “It’s affected her major and her career and its affected her personality and her lifestyle.”

January 2017 would have marked the 14th year Williams has played piano, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. In March of 2016, Williams noticed that she had trouble with her hands.

“I thought they just got tired from playing on the piano, so I gave them a break,” Williams said. “But they never got better.”

Alicia Williams took piano lessons under the instruction of Dr. John Mortensen in this office. [Photo by Campbell Bortel]

Chiropractors informed Williams that her problem is in her neck rather than her hands. Her neck has a backward curve, which puts a lot of pressure on her nerves. Chiropractors told Williams the shape of her neck was evidence of some sort of accident with whiplash. In March of 2015, Williams was in a sledding accident which smashed her jaw and required plastic surgery. Williams said she thinks the accident, combined with posture issues, caused her hand pain.

With her neck issues, Williams had to give up her keyboard pedagogy major. Even with personal training exercises, she can only practice piano for approximately 45 minutes a day, which is not enough practice for a piano major.

“A piano player can’t not play the piano,” she said.

The transition away from keyboard pedagogy has been difficult Williams said, but remembering how God worked through her accident encourages her that God is in control of her life through these issues as well.

In particular, Williams described how after the sledding accident she and her family were able to talk to her pediatrician about suffering. Her pediatrician believed in karma and was upset that Williams had to go through an accident when she was a good person. Williams was able to give both her pediatrician and her plastic surgeon copies of a book on suffering by R.C. Sproul.

“I haven’t heard much about what she’s been thinking since, but I can’t help but think that maybe we planted a seed,” Williams said. “That just made it all worth it, because being in the situation and seeing the possible reason of why it happened was really encouraging because I feel like that’s a rare occurrence.”

Even though Williams is unable to play piano as much as she would like, she has not given up on music. Williams became a vocal major last semester in order to continue in the music department. She has sung with her parents and two younger brothers several times and been in church choirs. Williams said she cannot imagine doing something unconnected to music.

“[Being a vocal major is] new and it’s scary, but I’ve always wanted voice lessons,” she said. “God wants me to do it, I guess.”

A professor suggested to Williams that she use voice as an addition to her future piano studio. Williams is not sure if she will do it, but she said she thought it was a huge opportunity.

While her passion for music is a giant part of her life, it is not all she is. Williams said she enjoys the other arts, including drawing, painting, and reader’s theater. She also makes a variety of crafts, from cards to colonial dresses.

Brittany Roberts, a music major with concentrations in harp and keyboard pedagogy, met Williams last year through the music department. Roberts said they became friends because of the numerous things the two have in common (including making dresses).

“On first meeting her, it’s like the tip of an iceberg,” Roberts said. “There’s so much depth to her. She has at first a kind of quiet personality. But if you take the time to spend with her, it’s always so well spent. She’s a gem, and she’s so fun.”

Blair said she recommends Williams as someone to hang out with if you want to have fun.

“She’s very cheerful even when she’s going through a difficult time,” Blair said. “She keeps her energy up, she’s bubbly, very thoughtful and kind, and very talkative, too.”

Williams said she tries to stay cheerful despite her accident and hand struggles in order to encourage others, and she appreciates those who have helped her stay cheerful.

“I really want to get back in,” she said. “I don’t think I appreciated [lessons] as much before. [I’m] just realizing that what I have here is really a blessing and an opportunity.”

Rebekah Erway is a junior journalism major and campus news editor for Cedars. She is a diehard Disney, Veggietales, and Lord of the Rings fan and enjoys speaking in a British accent.

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