Undergraduates Over 40: Musician Finds Her Major at UWF
by Sarah Richards
“I was forty-four when I went back,” Rachel Giordano, a communications major at the University of West Florida, said. “I had just gotten out of a divorce after twenty-two years of being married. Once that happened, I wasn’t sure what I’d do. I knew just playing music wouldn’t be enough.”
However, Giordano has been able to make music a full-time gig.
“I just happen to be lucky,” she said. “I love to write, so I thought it would be better to get a degree in communications where I could do something with my writing rather than the music part of it. It’s hard to make a living doing that.”
Though Giordano is a writer, she finds that “music riffs are easier than coming up with lyrics.”
Giordano sings and plays the guitar, though she also performs duets with Nicole Bowen, and will “play just about anything but country.”
Like Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” the music world is changing, too.
Rather than audition on the spot for a gig, you talk to someone and give them a link to your online portfolio. “Nowadays, it’s all computer, videos,” Giordano said, though she does admit it still helps to know someone.
Part of making a living playing music is not only finding people who are willing to give you a shot—it’s also about surrounding yourself with great people who are different than you.
“She’s very outgoing and I’m not,” Rachel says of her business manager, Danielle Ross, who she describes as very charismatic. “She’s one of those people who can make anybody do anything.”
Everyone’s timeline is different; some gap years span decades. Giordano attests to the advantages of being a non-traditional student.
“I think what makes me a better student is that I’m older. If I’d gone to college when I was young—18, 19, 20—I don’t think I would’ve had the attention span that I do now.”
Transitioning from the small-town pulse of Pensacola State College to the big-city vibe of UWF was a natural choice, as UWF offered Giordano’s degree program. Though the desks in the communications department are her least favorite part, she likes that the school is close to home.
Her favorite part of the program, however, is the television production class.
“Mr. [Mark] Lambert is a terrific teacher and knows his stuff in the television production world. His hands-on approach has taught me the basic ins and outs of the program, and he is passionate about the field.”
Giordano plays at Ollie’s on Nine Mile Road, Kingfisher off of Barrancas Avenue, Hub Stacey’s on Government Street, and The Bridge Bar in Gulf Breeze, among others. For more information, check out Giordano’s Facebook page.