Olivia Booth finds freedom of expression in the strings of the instruments she plays


They say jealousy is the root of all evil, but for freshman Olivia Booth, it was the beginning of something that would forever change her: music.

Starting out on a whim after her cousin got a guitar at age six, Olivia then decided that this was going to be something she would pursue as a result. Little did she know it would end up being the source of her identity.

Today, Olivia plays guitar, piano, ukulele, and string bass in orchestra. Not to mention, she is self-taught in most of them. Olivia is living proof that often times what one adores as a kid may turn out to be a lifelong passion.

“I think at first, when I took guitar lessons, I was doing it, and I thought it was a lot of fun,” Olivia said, “but I never realized it was something that I would pursue doing that would be such a huge part of my life. Then, I continued to broaden my spectrum into other kinds of instruments. I just never saw myself doing that.”

Olivia has been able to take this side hobby and turn it into something that she does every single day, practicing upwards of one hour, depending on the instrument. And although she is unsure of what with music she would like to do, she knows it’s where she is going.

This is seen in how she does not see “practice” as practice at all. Rather it’s something that she gets to do, not has to.

As for inspirations, although both her parents had a substantial impact on her pursuit in music, they are not her sole response. Rather, Olivia draws motivation from music and artists around her, inspired by hits of the 80s and 90s, as well as indie music from today.

“I play some electric guitar, and I definitely I look up to Prince and other guitar idols,” Olivia said. “Their music is really influential. But for like acoustic and ukulele, I think I look up to people I see following those trends. I like to discover myself, and sometimes I do some songwriting that’s more inspired by those genres because I really like the fun, bubbly sounds of indie.”

However, even though Olivia had a burning passion for music, like every great artist, she found herself in a musical rut. She stopped playing for a bit and put down her guitar. It wasn’t until she got her first ukulele that she started to feel that spark that set her passion ablaze in the first place return.

“I took a break from guitar for a little bit after I stopped doing lessons because I kind of lost my drive to do anything with music,” Olivia said. “[When] I got my first ukulele, from then on, I just started to realize how fun it was and how much I missed it. I think that time of not doing anything [was when] I finally got my motivation to do music back. I was super excited about it, and that definitely made me want to do more of it.”

For Olivia, this comeback was more than just about rediscovering her drive; it was about giving herself a second chance. Music proves to be a form of expression, more than simply composing sounds that appeal to her. To Olivia, it’s about expressing her emotions, thoughts, and feelings that she can’t find a way to say and communicating them through chords.

I think as I continued to connect with [music] more, I continued to realize that it doesn’t really matter what people think about you.

— Olivia Booth

Many of her friends would say that Olivia is a really positive person, and outgoing and really bubbly. However, it wasn’t always this way. In fact, until she rediscovered her passion for composing, she kept not only her music to herself but also her words.

“This year, I came out of my shell a lot, and I’ve been way more outgoing and bubbly than I have [been],” Olivia said. “With the music that I’ve written and the music that I’ve played, it’s definitely showed through because I really like [to make] kind of upbeat stuff. I like to write happier things, now.”

As for writing her own music, Olivia has developed a process all her own. Rather than hunting the tune down, she plays around on her guitar or ukulele until she finds a rift that she enjoys. While keeping this tune in mind, Olivia brainstorms for lyrics that she either already has written down or whatever comes to her at the moment. Using this process, she has written innumerable songs, both finished and unfinished.

One of Olivia’s favorite ways of expression through music is making alterations to already popular songs. She will take an upbeat song, slow it down, and make it unique. Often times taking songs that are playing on the radio, she will find a tune she likes and then find a way to play it on guitar. With her inspiration often coming from throwback tunes, she will then rush to show her parents what she’s made for their taste in oldies songs, and they are always happy to hear.

“When I play something for them, and they’re like, ‘Wow, that is really, really good,’ I really like that, and it just makes me feel really good to have that kind of validation from someone who is really important in my life,” Olivia said. “[They] definitely keep me going. They’ve always understood that it’s a really big passion of mine, and they’ve always done what they can to help.”

Although Olivia has always had a passion for music, a portion of her idea to start making her own came from theater. After performing in several musicals, she realized that she would like to create her own tunes to sing and dance along to. So even though she does not foresee theater in her future, she does dedicate her songwriting feat to it.

With that being said, Olivia cannot imagine her life without music. Her entire life is spent thinking about it, playing it, and listening to it. In fact, without music, Olivia is not sure she would be the same person today. She owes it to bringing her out of her shell, a form of expression, and also a way to show her talents for the world to enjoy.

“I never [used] to show [my music talents] off,” Olivia said. “I wouldn’t play in front of my parents that often. I think as I continued to connect with [music] more, I continued to realize that it doesn’t really matter what people think about you. The music that I write and the music that I play a really big part because I started to connect a lot with my passions. I started to realize that this is a good thing. This is something people would want to know about me.”