Freshman Noelle McSpadden finds herself through her lyrics


Emily Early

Playing an acoustic guitar, freshman Noelle McSpadden sits just outside of her music classroom. McSpadden was inspired to play guitar to add to her songwriting. “[Guitar class] makes songwriting much easier for me. I feel good about my music because I can actually play with a guitar [to back it up],” McSpadden said.

Pen travels across the paper. Guitar strings strum. Chords travel across the room in sound waves, crafting into rhythms and lyrical melodies. A new song joins the collection of 450 other songs written by freshman Noelle McSpadden.

After writing songs for more than three years, McSpadden has found her voice in the pop genre, often backed with her acoustic guitar.

“I love writing songs because it feels good and helps me process things, like feelings or struggles I have,” McSpadden said. “I can’t write in a diary in [the same way]. Simply writing words out doesn’t feel right. I like writing songs because there’s a connection to the story I’m writing about.”

One struggle McSpadden has dealt with is her insecurities while growing up hard-of-hearing. It can be hard to detect deafness in young children, so McSpadden was not diagnosed with moderate-to-severe hearing loss until she was a few years old. 

“[Growing up hard-of-hearing] was hard. I’ve gotten judged for it, especially in [elementary school]. I kept my hair down my whole life; I didn’t want to be judged [because of my hearing aids]. Now I’m getting used to putting my hair up,” McSpadden said. “One of my other songs asks God to heal the hearing loss. In the last verse, I wrote, ‘why can You not heal me?’ because I don’t understand that.”

McSpadden began to gain confidence in herself through writing music. She discovered her love for songwriting through singer-songwriter Alec Benjamin’s music, specifically through the song “Mind is a Prison.” 

“His music is relatable to me. I want to express myself [through my music] the same way he does,” McSpadden said. “Sometimes I watch his videos and want to go through the same [process] he did, learning to play guitar and sing in high school.”

The lyrics to McSpadden’s song, “Two broken hearts.” McSpadden uses songwriting as a tool to process her own experiences. “I think [it is] one of my favorite songs [that I have written],” McSpadden said. “It’s about an old friend who broke my heart.” (Graphic by Emily Early, album cover by Noelle McSpadden)

McSpadden began coming up with lyrics while singing along to instrumental music, but she now plays an acoustic guitar to back up her lyrics.

McSpadden began learning guitar through YouTube tutorials and is now enrolled in Guitar 1.

“[Guitar class can be] very difficult. I can’t hear certain notes, so I have trouble learning. I just keep on pushing myself to do better. This is the thing I do want to do for life, [so I want to] succeed in guitar class so I can get the career I want,” McSpadden said. “To find the right notes, I always have to listen carefully, which is hard. But I can’t hear some notes, so I pretend to know them and just sing anyway. I often record myself singing and go back to the recording to see how I sound. [From there,] I try to figure out ways to sound better.”

Lyrics, on the other hand, come to McSpadden more easily.

“[Lyrics] just magically come to me. When I think of a lyric, I want to write a song right that minute. When I have a song coming to me, I write it down as fast as I can so I don’t change it,” McSpadden said. “I tend to [sit down and] write songs every three days.”

McSpadden hopes to one day write and perform professionally. Having only performed for her friends at lunch, she hopes to find stability in her songwriting before finding a bigger stage. 

“I had always wanted to play out to people since I was a kid. My biggest dream is to go to America’s Got Talent and perform. [Playing at lunch] was scary, but I would do it again. It felt free,” McSpadden said. “I want to be older, though, and I want to make sure I am [confident] in my songs before putting them out there to stream. I’m still figuring out who I want to be and how I want to write.”