Playing Music

Music is my favorite form of creative outlet. I once dated a girl who considered herself somewhat of an artiste. She was primarily into drawing and painting. I still remember her one day saying, depsite listening to a lot of it, that she was pretty apathetic about music in general. She was into 2D art and that was about it. That blew me away. How could someone possibly not be into music? Well, to each their own I suppose. Art is completely subjective afterall, and don't let any self-proclaimed artist try to convince you otherwise.

I was a late bloomer when it came to listening to music. I was pretty socially unaware as a young kid, and popular music and the radio weren't part of my world. That started to change sometime around the middle of elementary school. My first musical instrument, like many kids, was the recorder. Learning to play the recorder was required of all students. In fifth grade, I, for reasons still not completely known to me, chose to move from our general music class to orchestra. The school demoed the violin, viola, cello, and bass for us. The only thing I remember is I chose the viola over the violin mainly because it could get bigger in size than the violin. Great reasoning, kid!

In junior high, I left orchestra and started playing the electric guitar. By then, my musical tastes had gravitated more toward hard rock and heavy metal, and orchestra just wasn't cool. I never got very good at guitar, but I had fun because I played with one of my best friends who started playing at about the same time. I also had a short stint playing the keyboard. None of my other close friends played music so, unfortunately, I was never in a band.

When I went off to college, a little voice in the back of my mind said, "okay, it's time to quit playing around, buckle down, and get ready to become an adult." I think that voice sounded an awful lot like my parents'. I decided not to bring my guitar with me, afraid it would distract me too much from my studies. Somehow, I managed to find a lot less productive things than playing guitar to distract me in college.

Little did I realize it at the time, but losing that creative outlet would have a detrimental effect upon me over the long term. Creativity is an essential component of our happiness. We need to create. My first three jobs out of college were in software development of one form or another. I got really burned out on it during that third job, and when I left one of the first things I instinctually did was go to a musical instrument store. As an adult, I kept trying to pick guitar or piano back up, but it just never seemed to stick. Some success came when the Rock Band, Guitar Hero, and other music video games came out, but even those innovative tools couldn't hold my interest for too long.

Many years later, I found something that truly resparked my enjoyment of playing music. I had heard about and looked into School of Rock previously, but for one reason or another never enrolled. Recently, as part of recovering from a long series of stressful events, I finally took the plunge. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made. School of Rock, unlike most other music schools, centers around performing with a band. You don't have to be any certain level. You can be a complete beginner and they will find a way for you to play and contribute. It turns out the key missing ingredient for me was playing with others. My passion for playing music was finally rekindled.

Since performing with School of Rock, my overall passion for music has started to thrive again. I find myself watching all kinds of music documentaries, even about bands and music I'm not really that into. In the past, when I've asked myself that old cliche question, "what would I do if money were no object?", I often find myself thinking something along the lines of musician and music producer. The thing is, though I pick most things up more quickly than the average person, I don't consider myself naturally gifted at any one thing like playing or creating music. This applies to my life in general, not just music. With professional artistic endeavors, however, there seems to be a stronger stigma of needing to be naturally gifted at what you're doing to have any kind of financial success. The life of artists and entertainers tends to be feast or famine, with the vast majority falling into the famine category. It remains to be seen if playing and creating music becomes a viable profession or remains a hobby for me, but regardless I know it will remain an essesntial part of my life from here on out.

Calls to Action

What are your creative outlets? Think of ways you can create things for yourself and other people to enjoy, and pursue them!


School of Rock - With franchises around the world, School of Rock is the leading rock band performance based music school. All locations cater to children, and many have adult bands as well. If there's not a School of Rock near you, inquire about band performance based options at other local music schools. Having the band performance component can make all the difference between sticking with it or not. It has for me.

Justin Guitar - Interested in learning to play guitar but on a tight budget? These free online lessons are as good or better than other paid options I've come across.

WarrenMusic - Good videos on music theory, ear training, guitar, and Radiohead. Warren Lain is super passionate about teaching people the deeper aspects of appreciating and creating music.

Vox Earworm - Video series on "the stories and sounds behind your favorite songs."

Switched on Pop - Podcast where a couple of music experts break down pop songs, explaining why they are popular and how they fit in our music history and culture.

Song Exploder - Podcast where musicians explain how their songs were made.

Pro Tools First - Interested in recording, mixing, or producing music? This is the free version of the digital audio workstation most professional studios use. Check out the Learn & Support section of the Pro Tools First website for introductory tutorials. If you are using Pro Tools with Windows, you may need to also install ASIO4ALL.