This is part of a series called “Outside of the game.” Other featured BYU student athletes are Adam Hine, Erica Owens, Kyle Rose, Brock Whitney and Ben Patch. The complete, interactive iBook is available for free in the iBookstore.
Taryn Lewis revealed her talent and passion as she pulled out her cherry wood cello and began to bow Bach’s “Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1,” stringing out the long arpeggios and chords.
“If you want to be good at something, you need to love it first,” said Lewis, a senior on BYU’s swim team.
For Lewis, music has always come easy. It came even easier than the athlete’s main sport. She credits her talent and work ethic to her father, a proficient pianist, and her mother, a Miss Idaho winner. While she definitely got the music genes, she said her diligence produced more than her ability.
“Because of that music background, music came easy but required hard work,” Lewis said. “That ability to work hard in turn helped me out in my swimming.”
Although the cello was her first choice, it was not the first instrument she tried. She started out on the piano at a young age, but it became more of a chore than an outlet.
“I hated practicing, but my mom wouldn’t let me quit unless I started another instrument,” Lewis said.
Low notes and the rarity were just a couple things that drew her to the cello. The violin was too popular and overplayed, but the cello was unique and beautiful to Lewis.
Even though she no longer had to practice piano pieces she did not like to play, practicing the cello was still a challenge until she could see the improvement in her playing and performances.
“Growing up, I didn’t like to play things that I didn’t like, but I was forced to,” Lewis said. “So, I recorded myself practicing one day on tape and then had it play over and over while I was in my room. It didn’t take my mom very long to realize what I was doing.”
With every symphony, concerto and Bach masterpiece, Lewis finds the most joy when she is able to combine both of her talents together to serve others.
BYU women’s swim coach Shari Skabelund is impressed with how well Lewis bridges her sport and musical hobby.
“Besides her talent with the cello, she also has a beautiful voice and has been willing to sing the national anthem with her teammates before our swim events,” Skabelund said. “We have been asked several times at away meets if we could have our athletes perform the national anthem. They usually say, ‘BYU is known for musical talent, and could you do this for us?'”
Lewis said her music is a way she can befriend and comfort those who feel alone. “As athletes, we have lots of service opportunities,” Lewis said. “When we would go to rest homes for FHE, I would bring my cello and we would all sing along. Even if it was the same song every month, the old folks were so sweet. They just loved having us come.”
Although the love for the cello does not outweigh swimming, Lewis recognizes the long-term benefits of having a musical talent and how it has enriched her life. “Swimming is very physical,” she said. “But the cello, it’s something I can do until I’m 90 years old; whereas, swimming ends now.”