I’d like to start with a few pieces of information. First, I love music, and second, I’ve only seen my dad cry one time ever.
I believe that the study of music will change us. Not only us as in just musicians, although them especially, but I think the study of music will change us as a society, as people, and as a whole. The second music started changing me was when I was 12 years old, when my parents revealed their divorce to me. My dad was the person who taught me how to play guitar, and I always admired when he would go to the studio and come back with songs by him that I could play on my cd player, even though he had a lifelong of work to do at the prosecutor’s office instead of playing chords with friends. The first way music changed me was that whenever I play guitar and write songs, I feel like he is living vicariously through me and that he is right by my side even when he wasn’t there.
Like any growing child and teen, I found my image through the music I thought was the most rockin’ at the time. I started studying and listening to Nirvana and other grunge bands that my dad’s XM Radio would play them all the time. His favorite band was Pearl Jam, and I know this because he saw them at a bar when he was like 20 and he promised his buddy they would be famous and now they are. I always thought that was the coolest story. I began to appreciate those bands and just how alive they felt, and would spend hours in my room playing not – stop grunge songs that were on that radio. Like no other, that music taught me not to just think that the music is cool and play it because it is cool, but to actual love what you are playing and what those songs mean for you.
As I got older and felt eager to expand my learning, my dad set up guitar lessons for me with one of his good friends, Jared. Jared was a hilarious man, about 38 at the time and probably smoked 2 + packs a day. Jared shared the love for the music I lived by so heavily. He taught me my first scale, the pentatonic scale. Suddenly, the tones on the guitar became foggy shapes and patterns. Any song I could find the key, and then find the shape. This first experience with better understanding something seemly impossible was one of many. I started thinking of things in patterns instead of just random happenings. I remember my therapist complimenting me saying that it was impressive to see a young child link different events together. I still use this today, seeing patterns of things that happened years ago and finding hope in them. I think that every musician who starts to notice these patterns changes their perspective on life. Jared not only taught me to love the music, but to love my instrument. I loved my instrument because it changed my way of looking at this world we live in.
After the move from my hometown, we decided to pause lessons with Jared so that I could focus on studying the upright bass. The bass was so interesting to me because I began to find out my guitar playing would directly link to the bass playing. Through my years, I studied both instruments with passion and made my image as a high school student as the kid with music pouring out of every poor. Through my high school study, I began to listen and experiment with different genres of music, all heavily guitar oriented but anything from electronic to hardcore screamo. At this time I would use this music to experiment on who I was as a person and how I will find that. I began to experiment with feeling more alive and blending that in with my soul as an artist. In this journey, I began to struggle with mild drug use and getting into the wrong crowd as a young teen. I began to become addicted to being out every mischievous night and never failing to bring my guitar with me. As a young kid I thought those substances were helping me, but now I know that it was the music that was making me find myself, and I’m so thankful that I found that out before it was too late.
So what I believe is that the study of music will change us. I guess I should further clarify what that really means. Now that my background in regards to music has been shared, I think it is only fair. When I say study, I mean the experience of falling in love and being swayed by the sound and knowledge that comes from these tones. When I say us, I mean all people because I think all people deserve to find that special beauty inside of them. That beauty is like no other, and I damn guarantee that every beautiful moment can be moved even more by the perfect song or hum. The only time I’ve seen my dad cry was when it finally hit him that he was really having a divorce, and that he was leaving my mom. He was crying because he felt that he failed at being his son’s perfect role model and that he was hurting his loved ones when really he was just trying to be happy. I remember when the perfect song would come on in the car and I would see my dad truly happy, daydreaming away at the crazy interchanging world of music. I was the one who pushed him to keep playing and writing, and I know that it was saving him.
Well here I am now, not only do I know the pentatonic scale, but I know it in every single position and key possible in the major and minor key, and now more than 10 other scales as I learn crazy things like how each pattern can be named and now the patterns have note names and crazy chords to go with them and I start to think of crazy things like that each person may just be another complex note or chord and we all fit in together in the end and I believe this is what is really changing me. I am working to go to college to study Jazz guitar to find myself even more. No one can imagine how proud that would make my mom.
So here I am now, I’m sitting at a funeral because my Dad’s wife’s grandmother has died earlier this week. What made me so sure that music will change us is the song that my step grandfather, Dan, wrote for his beloved mother as he was by her bedside the night she passed. My father kept with music and met his beautiful wife because of it. I can’t wait as my dad, my second family and I huddle up together as we listen to Dan struggle to sing this song for his mother one more time, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll see my dad cry once again.