I always wanted to be just like my brother- a musician. Seeing him play trombone since he was in the 5th grade got me thinking about all the benefits that come with it. Girls, fame, and the slickness to play “Mary Had A Little Lamb”… it was a no brainer. That was until I discovered what choir was! Girls, fame, and the capacity to sing “The Star Spangled Banner”… this was my real calling.
While I had no problem with it at the time, joining choir meant that I had to give up on my trombone dreams and all the benefits that came with learning to play an instrument. As I accepted that, I thought of alternatives such as playing guitar and taking private lessons to better round myself as a vocalist and instrumentalist. It was the best of both worlds! That was until I realized I completely despised guitar and every little aspect that had to do with it. The thick, steel strings and the stench it put on my fingers after 10 minutes of what could be loosely described as “practice” was all too much to handle. I didn’t pick up the instrument for another 4 years.
Before I would find myself playing the guitar again let us rewind. Taking up the clarinet in 8th grade here at SOCES, I finally got a taste of what I’ve wanted to do ever since I saw my brother play that trombone of his. While it was a hard adjustment, actually playing an instrument was worth every second. Everything I ever thought I knew about music was suddenly so much clearer and it put me on a clear path to becoming a better musician.
Come the end of 8th grade, I found myself and my best friend on a bench during P.E class. Discussing the grander parts of life such as everything is not what it seems to be and humans are simply alien feces that fall from space, we end up coming to the decision that it is absolutely critical we start a band. At the time I was completely into synth pop music (something I kind of regret), while he was as grunge as you can get. After his decision that synth pop isn’t an option at any costs as it would not get us ANY girls, I reluctantly surrender my dreams of becoming the next Passion Pit. (Thank you Damian for opening my eyes.)
The plan was to become the next Nirvana. I was still foreign to the idea of grunge and everything that was a distorted guitar, but it attracted me for some reason. The culture and everything that came with the rawness of power-garage rock was something especially compelling. I was quickly exposed to guitar culture and I never got out. The only problem was, I still didn’t know how to play.
Initially telling my friend that I knew how to play because I honestly thought I did, I was set as the lead guitarist. After a “practice” we both realized I was no Jimmy Page and after trying out keyboard, we both knew I wasn’t going to play guitar or keyboard. I was suddenly lost again. Nevertheless, we eventually contracted the help of another SOCES student and found our guitarist. This however, made me feel dejected and unhappy with myself. It was clear I was no good, however I was determined to become okay at best.
After extensive soul searching and hours of no good practice, I gave up once again. Both of my friends were better than I was and it would take a LONG time to get to a fraction of their level so there was absolutely no reason for me to even imagine myself being any good at guitar. Nonetheless, I still loved the way guitars looked. Everything about them was absolutely mesmerizing. Being able to color them any which way, changing parts to make them sound different, and even the kind of straps you can use. It was a whole different world.
photo courtesy of getty images
I owe the above image so much. Too much. If I had to pay this image for all it’s done for me I would become broke. It sounds like an exaggeration and it might be, but it’s exactly how I feel. Seeing the man our band was initially modeled after (our band’s name is ZOMBIELOAF if you were wondering. You have probably heard of us as because we are FAMOUS at SOCES) sparked something inside of me. It brought back all the thoughts of wanting to play an instrument and why I wanted to in the first place. Girls. And becoming a great musician of course. However, it wasn’t exactly playing the guitar that drew me to the image, but rather discovering more about the instrument.
As I had previously stated, guitar culture had completely sucked me in. I wanted to learn absolutely everything there was to learn about it, and everything came together perfectly for me. I was able to receive an old guitar from my father’s co-worker. While it had a simple black body and maple neck, I had a vision for this instrument. I would take it completely apart and paint it exactly like Kurt Cobain’s Fender Mustang. My mom thought I was dumb and my friends though I would just end up with a broken guitar. However, for the first time, I decided to not listen to them, and just do it. I knew they didn’t actually mean any harm towards me but I still wanted to prove them wrong.
In the meantime that it took me to finish that project , I reunited with my first acoustic guitar that I despised so much and practiced everyday. I was able to become better at something that I longed to be good at for so long and nothing has ever felt so good. And about a year after I had begun, I completely finished my guitar and made it my own. The time and effort I put into my instrument made me develop a relationship with an instrument that I’ve never felt before. A purpose was there and I couldn’t hold back my every desire to completely master this instrument.
Being able to set my mind onto something and doing it all by myself was kind of new to me. This was a fresh sensation and showed me that as long as I want to I CAN actually do it. It sounds cheesy, but I thoroughly believe that anything you set your mind to can be accomplished. After reflecting on these events a while back, I realized that most of why I do certain things is mostly to prove myself and others wrong. I’ve been in many situations in which people have told me that I simply can’t do something that I really wanted to. Even I’ve told myself I can’t do certain things, however now I write music and play guitar better than I ever have and am constantly improving. I’ve realized -thanks to playing and taking guitars apart- that proving others and yourself wrong is the best part about doing any activity.