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Why I participate in Music

Everyone’s musical journey tends to have a moment of awakening. For some it is the first time they pick up an instrument and feel an immediate connection. For others it may be a particular album or song that entrances them and drives them to create music of their own. For myself, it took quite some time to find that moment. My mother was a musician and she wanted desperately for me to find a musical outlet of my own, even if it wasn’t the same path she had taken for herself. I tried out a number of instruments and nothing seemed to take, not the violin or the guitar or the flute, none of them created that spark of joy. Eventually I found an instrument I was at least mildly interested in, the trumpet, but there was one event that absolutely changed everything for me. It was the first time I sat in on a large community concert band rehearsal.

I was far too young and inexperienced to really play along, but I still remember the first time I heard that magnificent wall of sound. It was a visceral thrill unlike anything I had done before, and it beat the heck out of playing along to instructional CD’s! But there was more to it than just an amazing and gargantuan sound. There was a tremendous sense of community. Everyone was there to make something great together, everyone was having so much fun and the sense of comradery was palpable. It was the “eureka” moment for me where I realized just how much fun it was to make music with people and frankly how epic and exciting music can really be.

And that is why I still participate in music to this day. I have made my closest and dearest friends through playing music. My symphony director has always described the orchestra as a team sport. You field over 80, 90 or even more than 100 players and they all have to be working in sync. There really isn’t any other group setting that requires this many people to all want to work so closely together, and that makes every rehearsal feel like a warm family gathering. Rehearsing and pouring your heart into a performance is one of the most rewarding feelings I can imagine, and the friendships that come with playing music are incredibly strong.

Even through the pandemic, music found a way to keep going strong! Being a musician inherently builds up your skills to improvise and not just on a jazz chart, and those kinds of skills come in very handy when you suddenly aren’t allowed in the same room as your rehearsal buddies. At the beginning we could only barely play along to pre-recorded tracks and hope everyone could keep up. But then in the course of one year my friends and I all learned how to record, mix, edit and master music from our bedrooms and we spread this knowledge as far and wide as we could. These musical projects kept my brain sharp and kept me from going insane, I can barely imagine how people survived quarantine without music!

These skills have also translated incredibly well to other areas of my life. Learning how to lead a small combo rehearsal has helped me learn how to lead teams of people at other jobs. Learning how to quickly adapt when your PA System decides to stop working has taught me the skills to improvise when equipment at my retail store goes on the fritz. Probably the most important skill, and something I still work on to this day, is the ability to recover from mistakes. Almost every concert will have a moment where you flub a note or botch a tuning, and being a musician teaches you how to re-focus and move on like no other job or hobby I know of. You can’t stop to dwell, you have an audience to entertain and friends who are still counting on you. That sense of support and forward momentum has pulled me out of my darkest times and I honed that skill through music.

If you play a musical instrument but are struggling to find the passion in it, the best thing I can recommend is finding someone else to play with. It could be simply jamming and goofing around with a friend, it could be a small chamber group or even a local community band. All of these experiences will forge incredible bonds! I know people well into retirement age who still come to rehearsals wherever they can because music and the joy it creates lasts a lifetime, if not beyond. That is why I participate in music, it is why I always will and why I want everyone to have that same chance.

Cody Anderson - Store Manager, Santa Barbara Location