At 24, most people can’t claim they have made a life out of music, let alone been at it for over 10 years. Kaitlyn Maria definitely gave the world a run for her money too. Maria had pneumonia 13 times, and she wasn’t supposed to live past six.

Maria first played the piano in 1994, since it was such a huge milestone to live past. The violin came at age nine. She joined her teachers in the Omaha Musicians Union. Even in the beginning, Maria performed with the likes of Mannheim Steamroller and Rod Stewart. She climbed up the ladder rapidly.

Maria says Mannheim was like a family to her. “They are real people with real families,” said Maria.

Much of her early experience performing came from Mannheim. They showed Maria what it takes to be on tour and what kind of mentality you need to utilize.

Mannheim also taught Maria a valuable lesson: the music industry is a business and you must approach it as such. She opened Eloquent Acoustics when she was just 14, and it was in the business of fixing violins and booking weddings.

Part of Maria’s ability to see colors around people and to hear sounds as colors is not normal for most people. It’s called synesthesia and it is a unique trait stemming from neuroscience. Maria decided to major in Neuroscience at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

“Writing based on synesthesia has always been my favorite way of working,” Maria said. Maria claims it is very natural; that the way colors travel across senses seems to be similar to the way the brain interprets music, so it’s kind of like seeing that process happen backwards. A lot of times people with synesthesia will see the same colors that others with it are seeing.

Maria said learning to improvise on the spot is hard when you have been classically trained and all of these indie or rock bands want you to just go. Apparently a good DJ will remix your music each night, so that helps challenge the artist. Maria recalled a time in Boston when she conveniently had all of her digital toys ready to go at a gig when nobody else seemed to be ready to play.

Maybe Mannheim taught her more than just how to approach matters; you have to own it. Yet, there have to be a lot of materials at one’s disposal to do so, and it’s hard unless you have been at this since memory first serves.

She did offer advice for artists and musicians everywhere. “Take every opportunity thrown at you. If a band wants to jam, then jam.” Locally, Maria enjoys playing at Blue Sushi, partly because she got sick of paying for sushi! Maria added there are a lot of bands in Omaha you can get started with. If you have a unique sound, it makes that process easier because you become memorable.

Maria never goes a day without practicing, but she does go days without playing. “I am either recording, practicing or performing. Every day.”

As with most artists, intense feelings inspire her. “I think in melodies, and I don’t even know I’m doing it at first.” Maybe some of this is what fueled the passion behind her EP scheduled for a spring 2013 release.

Maria wants to move to Los Angeles this fall after her EP is released. The EP is untitled as of yet, but six songs are expected to make an appearance. Maria plans to release a single and a music video. Look her up on iTunes; there is a lot of experimental stuff going on with her music, and it’s not worth missing out on. Maria has had a busy life, but she wouldn’t trade any of it. She has art for sale, does weddings, studies neuroscience, works in the DJ field, and plans to open her own music business someday — all while shredding on the violin.

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