Hi everyone, I’m pleased to welcome Sophia Byler (my beautiful youngest sister) to Made to Create. Sophia has been playing piano since she was five. She’s written her own compositions and recently began giving lessons to a few students. Her love of good piano music and her quick fingers on the keys amaze me. Listening to her play reminds me of how God works through the beauty of music.
Sheri Yutzy: Hello Sophia, thank you for doing this interview with me.
Sophia Byler: Hello, thank you for having me. It feels like quite an honor to be interviewed by my own sister :).
Sheri: I’m honored to have you here :).
Let’s get started. You started taking piano lessons at five years old. Did you take it seriously right away?
Sophia: No, sadly I didn’t take it seriously at first. I struggled to learn my notes and to practice consistently, which made piano lessons extremely tedious and boring for me. At one point I even asked my mom if I could stop taking lessons! Thankfully, she didn’t let me quit. Instead, my mom and teacher encouraged me to play by rewarding me whenever I practiced well. This helped me put more effort into practicing, and as I got more advanced I began to enjoy piano lessons a lot more. I’m so glad my mom and teacher didn’t give up on me! Playing piano is one of my favorite things to do now, and I couldn’t imagine my life without it. It also taught me an important lesson about not giving up easily when things get hard or boring, but to keep trying.
Sheri: I think that’s a lesson all creative people need to learn, because getting good at something requires diligence and patience. What musicians have inspired you the most?
Sophia performing Carefree, one of her original compositions.
Sophia: I feel like so many musicians have inspired me, but the main ones would be Yanni, Enya, Emily Bear, and Dan Gibson. All of them have created such beautiful music that makes me think of God. Every time I listen to them I am inspired to create my own music, and show people the beauty of music like they do.
Sheri: Besides these talented musicians, what inspires you to compose?
Sophia: Nature has always been inspiring to me, and when I see beautiful scenery it makes me want to capture that beauty in a song. Strong emotions such as happiness or sadness can also inspire me to compose in order to express myself. Listening to other musicians also inspires me to create my own music.
Sheri: I’m fascinated by how the same things that inspire you inspire me, too, we just express them different ways. God is a wonderful designer! What advice would you give to someone who’s just begun or would like to compose?
Sophia: Don’t expect to be able to effortlessly compose a beautiful song right away. It takes work and practice just like anything else. I think sometimes people get so discouraged when the song doesn’t form right away that they stop trying. I remember the first time I tried composing, I got so frustrated I wanted to give up. But I kept trying and now the more I compose the easier it gets.
Don’t be afraid to try! It doesn’t have to be perfect. A good question to ask yourself before composing anything is this: who are you making this for? If it’s for God it doesn’t matter whether it’s perfect or not, since He is the one who gave you the desire and ability to compose in the first place. So it’s really not your song—it’s His song. I think too often we forget that it’s God who gives us our talents, and we don’t achieve them by our own abilities.
Sheri: Well said. Asking who it’s for is a good question for anything we do, even our daily tasks. What’s the hardest thing about giving lessons? And what’s the best thing?
Sophia: Probably the hardest thing is when my students don’t put effort into practicing and learning. It’s difficult to know how to help them see how fun playing piano could be if they applied themselves. The best thing is being able to share my love of piano with someone else. It’s awesome to see them smile after they have just nailed a song, and know that they are as passionate about piano as I am.
Sheri: How has playing, composing, and teaching music shown you more of God’s nature?
Sophia: Music has definitely helped me worship and understand God more. One thing that it has shown me more of is His incredible beauty. Whenever I do anything with music, it always reminds me of God’s beauty. I feel that music is a gift from God to help us understand His beauty better. Another thing music has shown me more of is God’s omnipotence. When I mess up or struggle to play, compose, or teach it reminds me that I am only able to do these things because of God’s power, not through my own strength.
Sheri: Yes, music is definitely a gift from God! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on how you create and experience music. It’s been a pleasure.
Questions or comments for Sophia? Enter them below. If you liked this interview, share it!
Thanks for reading. Happy Easter!
Veronica Mast says
Sophia, Thank you for sharing your gift with us. I really enjoyed the song you played “Carefree”. It’s so beautiful!! May you be blessed as you continue to serve God through your musical talent.
Thanks for reading, Veronica!
Richard Herr says
Your song carefree is so beautiful! It is so wonderful how you have let God develop you in your musical gifting! It was really enjoyable reading this interview and hearing your lovely music!
Thanks for reading, Richard! It truly is wonderful how God has used her talent. I’ll make sure she sees this.
Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Sophia, I remember a time when you told me something like, “Sheri writes, Sheila does art, but I don’t have a special thing.” Not that you need a special skill to validate who you are, but I think your growth as a pianist has mirrored your development as a wonderful person. Proud to be your brother!
Definitely, Dorv. I’m so proud of her! 🙂
Thanks, Dorv! It means a lot to hear you say that.
Edith Burkholder says
Nice, Sophia! It really expressed being carefree!~e
Thanks for reading, Edith! I agree, I love that piece. 🙂