Music Is My Soul

John - San Luis Obispo, California
Entered on March 2, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: creativity
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One day when I was four or five, my parents came home bearing a Yamaha Baby Grand Piano. As I sat there dumbstruck at the mere size of the object in our living room, my parents came to the conclusion that it would be a prudent investment to get me involved in piano lessons. At the time, the lessons felt a chore. Every Wednesday from 3pm to 5pm I would be burdened with learning music theory and tediously chicken-picking my way through Mozart’s Symphony in the key of Whatever. I can’t say I took a liking to the lessons; however, I did improve.

Upon entering 6th grade, I was required to select one of two routs: athletics or music. Weighing in at 100lbs flat with little athletic experience outside of tennis, I chose the latter. My background in piano qualified me to enter directly into Percussion where I was immediately cast back into the basics of rhythmic fundamentals; however, this time I was learning on various percussive instruments. Rather than simply learning notes and rhythms created by composers hundreds of years ago, I was given the tools to create my own. It was here I discovered my true passion: the Drum Set.

What set this instrument apart from all others is that rarely will two people ever play the exact same thing. Out of the infinite number of combinations of beats and rhythms, each one I create is my own for its own individual purpose. For the first time in my life, I began to play music for myself.

For six years I continued in this direction. A few months before graduation, I received a call from an old friend asking me to drum in his band. Until this point, music to me had been nothing more than a hobby: a method of passing the time, or a form of defiance via sending rhythmic drum pulses through the common room floor into my parents bedroom at some ungodly hour in the night. Apprehensively, I agreed. Vicariously, I began to live through my music. Habitually, I would express my feelings through song, writing organized rifts that parallel my emotions, dreams, and desires. Never before had I felt so a part of something. What I had been doing for the past six years began to flourish into an art. The band was known as September Fade, headlining various prestigious venues including The Ridgeley Theater and The Palladium Ballroom. Though we were often reimbursed quite handsomely and local name recognition became a reality, I came to understand that the music was for no one but myself, for it was a part of me.

I believe an artist can only perform at an optimal state when the music is an extension of self. I believe to the fullest that every simple rhythm I have tapped out on my drum set has served a purpose, be it a confession of boredom, love, hatred, or good nature. Music truly is a confession of my soul, beckoning to anyone who listens.

Music, for me, is a form of salvation, an expression of what I would never speak. The anger behind the hard double kick of a Yamaha stage drum set, the sorrow in the voice of a teenage girl first wandering out of Nashville, and the playful rhythmic integrity of a Latin Congo are all expressions of the artist’s inner self. I reveal myself with the drums.