Musical secrets revealed…..”The truth behind my learning”

              I love music. I can’t imagine myself without it. To me it’s as if music stands between life and death and sits at the very core of breathing. Without music I believe life is not even possible. The very essence of living is discovered through a melody. I remember when I started to play drums at home in my parents living room. It was Christmas time and I got a set when I was only five years old. From this day forward and probably before then I’ve been soaking up everything I could hear and get my hands on. I took a stint at drum lessons when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I wanted to mimic what I saw being played in the local churches by what I now understand to be some raw unorthodox musicians. I used to take my drums everywhere I went, like to church and often to school for programs and sharing days. I recall one time even having my dad bring them during lunchtime so that I could play them in front of my classmates in the playground quad area. I felt so good that day, like I was on top of the universe.

Dad thought it would be great to take lessons. At least that’s how I think it happened. At any rate, I started taking then by a wooly haired gentleman named Steve, or cliff or something like that. It was at the local music store. I was excited at the beginning, because I figured this would surely start me on my journey to stardom at 9 yrs old. What shocked me first was that, although we were practicing in a music store full of drums and other instruments, in the room where my lesson took place, was only a drum pad on a stand and a high hat. I didn’t even get to hit the high –hat let alone the snare, the bass, the tom-toms or the cymbals. Where in the world had this guy learned to teach drum. Everyday, every class was one-eee-and-a-two-eee-and-a-three-eee-and, well you get the picture. This did not sound like the drum playing I wanted to learn. Needless to say those lessons ended rather quickly. It seemed that the rawness of music was what I was after, and I could not be constrained to this structure.

I played drums always – and everyday up through about the age of 12-13. At that point I met a few guys who wanted to start a group. A couple of the guys could play a few chords on the piano and another friend who played drums too wanted to join us. Now I liked playing something all the time, and with another guy on drums, the only thing left to do was jump on the keys and learn some chords so I could do just that. We played every chord we learned, over and over, and over again. We bled the ears of many a parent and peer on those 1 and two chord songs. As time progressed I was able to pick up a few chords here and there from visitors to the church I attended or family members. My father actually helped me learn my first real song. This song in the key of Ab was my spring bored to whatever I am doing today. I guess you could say he was responsible for my love of music. He planted the interest and made the tools available to me.

Oh yeah, I forgot, we had just about every instrument available for learning. There were drum sets, keyboards, horns, guitars, violin, organs, piano & others. My parents provided the perfect environment for music development. At the times when I was frustrated, feeling a creative block and becoming bored with the instruments, my father insisted I continue playing and practicing. He pushed me ever so gently yet consistently into every possible opportunity to grow. I remember him telling me on the day before if not the day of an event that he had already volunteered my talents to. He would say, “Oh yeah, this person is having a small program or wedding and needed an organist or pianist, and I told them you could do it.” That was it, and you could be sure I played it. Several occasions, I had never seen the person or spoken with them in my life. It taught me to step out into areas that I had not been before even though I was unsure and sometimes extremely nervous, if not terrified. Today this has been a great asset to have. The only way to really improve is to be willing to try new things. I believe there is longevity in stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone. I have to admit that 98% if not more of my making and learning has been on the job, if you will, and while doing.  This is my approach to any musician that should come my way and inquire as to learning to play. My approach at this point in my life to new music, is to let my ears absorb the sound, and spend time in front of the keys replaying what I hear, and refining it through practice as often as possible. That’s my secret!

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