My Musical Journey: How Music Has Shaped and Influenced Me

Music has always been really important to me. Whether I am the one playing the music or if I am hearing it, music is a huge part of my life and something that I love. Whatever stage of life I find myself in, wherever I may be, music is always there. It is something constant that I know I can always count on to lift me up. Through music I am able to process my emotions and connect more deeply with myself, but I am also able to shut the world out and lose myself for awhile. There is a song or a genre or an artist that can capture me, and my many sides and moods, throughout moments in time. I don’t keep a diary, but I make playlists every month and save them. This allows me to look back on my life and remember who I was or what I was going through based on the songs that make up each playlist. It’s like looking through a photo album, but I find it much more immersive, because listening to certain songs can literally take me back in time by triggering a memory or just a feeling that my past self experienced. For example, “Fun, Fun, Fun” by The Beach Boys takes me back to my childhood and driving with my parents from our home in Denver, Colorado to visit family in California. The song “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver always makes me think of spending summers on a ranch in North Park, Colorado; fishing, hiking, and relentlessly mooing at cows to see if they would answer me. Some songs hold less positive associations for me, like “Sister Golden Hair” by America, which I listened to a lot during a difficult time. There are so many emotions in music, in the way it’s played, in the way it’s heard, etc. Music is one of the most powerful things out there, in my opinion. One of the best things about it is that it has the ability to bring people together (some of my best memories are from concerts). It also has the ability to heal or comfort people, to give meaning or purpose to life during hard times, to be a creative outlet, and so much more. 

 

Music in My Childhood

I started playing music when I was just a baby. My mom took me to those “Mommy & Me” classes where we would play drums, tambourines, recorders, etc. It was just messing around, but I had so much fun. I also started listening to music when I was really young. My parents were always playing music around the house, so I grew up on bands like The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Depeche Mode, and The Police. I even had my own little CD collection, which consisted of some classical stuff (Bach & Mozart), two Jewel CD’s (still love her), Nora Jones’ “Come Away With Me” (one of my faves of all time, simply for the nostalgia), a Beach Boys compilation album, and a demo that my uncle made and gave to me one year for Christmas. When I was four, I came downstairs on Christmas morning to a piano in our living room with a giant red bow on top. After that I started lessons and was classically trained until I quit when I was fifteen. Sometimes, practicing felt like a chore and I didn’t want to do it, but my parents always told me I would be happy someday that I stuck with it. When my piano teacher moved to Philadelphia in 2016, I was at a crossroads. I could find a new teacher or stop taking lessons. I chose to stop lessons, but that didn’t stop me from playing the piano. I just went my own way, which ended up being a great choice. Instead of playing Clementi sonatinas I could play whatever I wanted. I knew how to read music, I knew how to learn songs, I just had to choose what songs I wanted to master. I bought a Fleetwood Mac sheet music book and learned “Rhiannon” and “Don’t Stop,” I (illegally) downloaded the sheet music for that one song that Edward plays in Twilight, I learned the Peanuts’ song, “Fields of Gold” by Sting, and “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy (which is classical, but a classical song that I actually enjoy). It was liberating. I could leave it for weeks at a time and come back whenever inspiration struck. I could spend hours and hours a day working on a song that I felt really passionate about. I made music mine.

 

The Journey Continues

In 2016 I got a ukulele for my birthday. I had been wanting to expand to new instruments for a while and this seemed like a good place to start. So, I taught myself the four strings on a uke,  how to read tablature and chord charts, picking and strumming patterns, and had an absolute blast. I would spend literally hours every day learning and playing the ukulele. I could find and learn just about any song I wanted to. I learned “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles, “Meadows” by Wild Child, “Atlas” by COIN, and even “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin (which doesn’t seem like a great song for the uke, but trust me, it can be). I increased my level of difficulty over time and (at least I like to think) I got pretty good. Piano and ukulele are great instruments, but I wasn’t done yet. I had a brief recorder phase, learning “Buy U a Drank” by T-Pain and “Mask Off” by Future, but that was mostly just for kicks. Next up, I wanted to learn to play the guitar. I started getting into it and messing around on an electric guitar. I learned the intro/riff from “Your Dog” by Soccer Mommy (an epic riff, I love it so much) and “Enter Sandman” by Metallica (which is equally epic). The thing was, my technique was… just not great. So here I am, second semester of my first year at Kenyon, taking guitar lessons for the first time in my life. I just had my first lesson yesterday (I’m learning acoustic, by the way) and it was great! Since I can read sheet music, chord charts, tab, etc. I have progressed to learning chords already. The guitar has two more strings than a uke, which is an exciting challenge. I’m also learning to use a pick (because I don’t use a pick with my ukulele). To make progress I know I will have to put in a lot of work and time, but I’m so excited to play (especially between stressful classes and studying). Music has always been my solace, and this is a way of incorporating it further into my life. For anyone who has always wanted to learn an instrument, but thinks they don’t have time, trust me… you do. I highly suggest making time somehow, somewhere in your life for music. It will alleviate stress and make you happier, I promise! Playing and listening to music has made me feel more complete, understood, and at home in the world. Music is meant to be shared, so I am here to share my musical journey with you in hopes that (if you haven’t already) you might embark on your own!

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