The Way Forward: Melody Caudill

The 16-year-old singer-songwriter offers a different perspective on pandemic times.

The past few months have felt like the world is ending, but everything is moving forward like normal and nobody is acknowledging it. Every day I’ve been attending my classes, listening to lectures, and taking exams, but it’s all from my bedroom, and it feels like I’m going through a simulation of high school rather than actually being a student. When quarantine started, my family got a PS4 and little by little, video games became my way of going outside. At this point, The Last of Us feels more real to me than high school does, and when you think about it, that post pandemic world isn’t too far off from this one. 

My sixteenth birthday party was a zoom call with my grandparents and a couple cards dropped on my doorstep. I wasn’t planning on having a huge party anyway because my social life at the time was in shambles, but the whole pandemic thing significantly enhanced my normal feeling of social isolation. I felt stupid celebrating my birthday while people all around the world were dying and there was nothing I could do about it.  

All throughout my preteen years, I fantasized about being 16, being independent, driving to concerts on my own, actually performing on stage one day, but at this point in time all of that feels unrealistic. My EP Teacher’s Pet was released this August on Lauren Records, which was still one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me, but having to experience it alone in my room was a little lackluster. I feel like my own growth has been stunted because this was the time I was supposed to be figuring out my place in the world, but being stuck in my bedroom makes me feel like I’m still 12, waiting. 

Remote learning is alright because I’m an introvert, school makes me tired and nervous, and I’m a fairly organized and independent learner. That being said, staring at a screen for 10ish hours a day is harder than I thought it would be, and AP classes are astonishingly more difficult when you have to teach yourself half of the material. Not only is this the first year I’ve ever taken an AP class, it’s the first year that I have to really start thinking about my future, which is really hard to do when the future’s so uncertain. I’ve gone to a few virtual college “webinars,” but none of it feels real because it’s all from my dining room table and I don’t even know if I’m going back to school for my senior year, let alone move to a dorm room in two years. I’m really trying to pass my classes this year while balancing online clubs, my music, my mental health, and keeping myself informed about what’s going on in the world, but it can get overwhelming when everything is condensed into my laptop. It’s hard understanding what a teacher is saying when they’re cutting out every 15 seconds and most of my classmates are black boxes that I have no way of communicating with outside of Zoom. To ask a question in a classroom is one thing, but the anxiety I feel when having to unmute myself is exponentially more terrifying. 

The world outside of my bedroom is terrifying, too. A part of me would actually rather be in the world of The Last of Us because at least I’d know that a clicker was right around the corner and I have a million ways to take it out using the random stuff I have in my backpack. In this world, I have no idea what to do or what’s coming. I can’t vote because of my age, I can’t protest because of the deadly contagious disease that has wiped out over 200,000 people in America alone, and as a young woman, I’m not sure if I’ll even have the rights that I have been waiting to take advantage of if the older generations don’t do something about it soon. I don’t trust the adults in charge to take care of the planet or the health of my country and I’m not even sure I trust adults in general to try and change that. 

Even though everything seems like it’s falling apart, if I’ve learned anything from spending so much time in my room, it’s that all I can really do is stay positive and do whatever I can to make my own impact in my own way. Because of covid, I’ve been able to pick and choose who I talk to and hang out with (outdoors with masks on of course), which has shown me what it feels like to have a genuine friendship with someone who understands me — something that’s been really hard for me to find for basically my whole life. I’ve found out who my real friends are, and I don’t have to deal with all of the extra drama that comes with being in the same building as 2,000 other teenagers every day. I’ve been able to express myself through songwriting a lot more frequently and passionately, and through that I’ve really been able to figure out who I really am outside of anyone’s perception of me. I’ve created an online magazine ( that has turned into a really special community that has brought together a lot of really amazing people. I’ve also gotten a lot closer to my dog, which is probably the best thing that’s come of this whole thing. 

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that being a teenager during a pandemic sucks, but the cool part of it is that every single teenager alive is going through the same exact thing at the same exact time. I can only hope it will serve as a collective bonding experience for my generation that will make us stronger in the end. That is, if the adults don’t blow it in November. 

(Photo Credit: Holly Gable)

Melody Caudill is a 16 year old singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, California. Coming from a musical family, and learning how to play piano at the ripe age of four, she’s been immersed in the creative world of songwriting since before she was in kindergarten. After picking up the ukulele at 13, learning guitar became the natural next step. With inspirations from artists like Priscilla Ahn, Phoebe Bridgers, and Elliott Smith, Caudill writes with a certain sense of vulnerability and confidence. At 13, she recorded and released her first EP, Thirteen . Thirteen chronicles the life of a pre-teen navigating new life changes. Now 16, Melody has written her second EP, Teachers Pet. Teachers Pet captures the essence of what it’s like to be in high school dealing with issues of self-confidence and finding a sense of belonging. However, Melody isn’t to be boiled down to another angst-driven teen. Her songwriting touches the core of the emotional turmoil we all go through. Whether that’s feeling smaller than your peers or being afraid to show your true self, there are just some inner-struggles we never grow out of.  “Teacher’s Pet” is out now on Lauren Records, along with a brand new single, “Mosquito Bites (Acoustic).”

(Photo Credit: Holly Gable)