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Sarah Joy was predestined to fall in love with music. A fourth-generation musician, she graduated from Texas Tech University at 20 years old with a degree in musical performance for cello and a passion for using Skype to make music accessible to all audiences. She’s made a name for herself on YouTube with her memorable voice—and even better advice.
It was originally Joy’s cover of “Autumn Leaves” that gave me pause upon finding the Dallas-area resident’s channel. Her voice is a mix between Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles, and she accompanies her covers and original songs with cello or piano. Joy opened her YouTube channel in 2014, and has used her videos to break down the ins and outs of being a professional musician. Passionate about composing, performing, and recording, Joy created an extensive library of 160-plus videos that range from introducing the cello, tuning, reading music, to setting up your practice room, preparing for concerts, and showcasing own recordings.
When it comes to juggling the multiple facets of her budding career, Joy told the Daily Dot it all boils down to drive. “The main thing is to stick to your core goals,” Joy wrote via email. “For me, I want to write and record music of high quality, and use it to inspire other people. If I stray from this, my YouTube videos begin to lack excellence, my teaching style is not as passionate, and my performances become predictably the same. In order to write and share high quality music, I must constantly practice, study other composers, write every day, and grow in my understanding of recording techniques. These four disciplines are how I maintain all other aspects of my work.”
“YouTube has given me direct contact with people all over the world,” Joy said. “Without financial backing, touring is not an option at this point. Signing with a label is also not a very good idea—at least at this point. With YouTube, I require neither of these things. It is incredibly liberating.”
She stands out with the quality and detail of her advice—it’s transparent lifestyle punditry that is nearly universal. She dives into topics I’ve rarely heard musicians on YouTube discuss such as performance etiquette, the quality of a musician’s practice time, and even the most basic—like why people should consider playing cello.
Much like fellow digital stars 2Cellos, Piano Guys, Kevin Olusola of Pentatonix, and That Viola Kid, Joy is evolving our idea of classical music. Suddenly classical instruments such as the cello aren’t just enjoyments for the rich or older generations, but populist and accessible crafts.
Her underrated channel is an intimate look at her process and progress, one that even the tone-deaf among us can savor.
Carly Lanning is a journalist who covers social media. Her work has been published by Psychology Today, NBC, Thrillist, and Ms. Magazine.