My experience with music

Some of you probably know that music is very important to me, so I thought it would be fun to discuss the role it has played as a hobby, passion, and creative release for basically my entire life.

The first musical memory I have is attending my sister’s (orchestra?) concert when she was in high school. I vividly remember (my mom can confirm this) waving my arms around as if I were the conductor while they were playing. I was probably about three at this time.

Then, I remember elementary school music class and chorus, where I had an amazing music teacher who always kept me feeling inspired. He is honestly one of the most musically talented people I have met (he wrote and directed multiple entire productions on his own). We sang simple songs, played the recorder, and did other typical elementary level musical activities. I remember a lot of my classmates did not take music class seriously, and I got very irritated at their lack of appreciation.

In third or fourth grade, I began taking both piano and voice lessons with my music teacher, which I would continue until middle school. During this time, I also had roles in my class play and the elementary school musicals, and attended summer theater camps.

In middle school, I was involved in the production Annie. After this, for some reason, I stopped participating in performing arts at my school (other than briefly to be a part of the production of Footloose). I think it was because I wanted to be more active in cheerleading, and I only had so many hours in the day, but I sometimes wonder how my experience might have been different if I’d continued.

Despite that I stopped participating in performing arts, I was still musically active. I would spend a ton of my time online, discovering new music, and particularly on YouTube, watching covers of popular songs. I also began to play guitar some time in high school, so that required a lot of my time, as I was teaching myself. I even began to collaborate with my friends and post videos of our covers of songs (yes, these are still online… it doesn’t even feel like me when I watch those videos, since I have changed so much since then. I’m no longer active on this channel, but I keep the old videos up so I can look back and see how much I progress in terms of guitar, etc).

During college, I had a bit of a musical hiatus. I always had my guitar on campus, but there wasn’t much privacy. While I have no problem performing in front of an audience when I know a song, I *hate* being around others when I am learning a song (or trying to be creative and write my own). It really interrupts my focus and bothers me a lot. So, I spent a lot of time wishing I could be playing guitar but feeling unable to.

Once I graduated college, I started to get back into it. I have hit a bit of a plateau with my guitar playing, and now I’m spending a lot more of my time trying to improve. Now, I actually have recording equipment and music software that allows me to document this journey, which is something I’m trying to invest some time into. I must admit that it feels a bit self-indulgent to spend time recording music when I have all of these other priorities in my life, but I also believe that you have to do what feeds your soul. And writing my own songs is something that I’m also working toward. My hope is that I could one day provide people with the same kind of joy that others’ music has given me, so I will continue to share some of my music on my YouTube channel 🙂

How has music helped, inspired, or taught you (or not) in life?

-AK

7 things I can’t live without

If we are talking about what I couldn’t survive without, the first things that come to mind are obviously food, water, shelter, my friends and family, etc. However, these are a given. Right now I want to focus on the less obvious things that “give me life.” Not all of these are to be taken literally, of course. 🙂

  1.  Coffee – I don’t think this needs an explanation, although to me coffee is a bit more than (just) an addiction. Working as a barista was my first step toward adulthood. I have bonded with both of my parents over our mutual love of this sweet nectar of the gods. There is nothing more comforting or that “centers” me more than a good cup of coffee and some quiet time. Whether I am enjoying a cup of coffee to start the day, as an accompaniment to lovely conversation with friends, or as a ritual to get focused before I start some school work, it is a constant in my life and makes it much less dull.
  2.  Music – I think I have literally been quoted as telling my mom that if everything else goes wrong, even if I lost everything else in my life, I could always find a way to be content as long as I had music. Music is so important to me as a means of self expression. But, also, listening to others’ music is such a unique part of the human experience. I swear that I can get a natural high by hearing a song that I really like. Not just a song that’s catchy and makes me want to sing along, but the kind that speaks to my soul. Do you know what I mean?
  3.  Water – haha, I said I wasn’t going to include water, right? I’m not talking about hydration this time, though. I have always felt an extreme need to live near water, whether it be a river or a lake or the beach. Even as a child, when I first saw the map of the U.S., I thought, “what would be the point of life if I lived somewhere like South Dakota, or Kansas… the ocean is so far away!” No offense to anybody who lives in these places and enjoys it, but the ability to be near a large body of water has always had a strangely soothing effect on my soul and I honestly think life would feel a lot emptier without it.
  4.  Intellectual stimulation – I thought about including “books” or something about my studies, but what those things fulfill is really my need for intellectual stimulation. I constantly need to be solving a problem or puzzle or analyzing something, even if I’m literally just analyzing the best way to arrange my closet. (Can you tell I’m in the process of moving?) If I’m not doing some kind of physical task, my mind is always “on”– planning, pondering, wondering, etc…
  5. A sense of purpose/ meaning – I think this speaks for itself, and is something that life is a lot less fulfilling without for everyone. But knowing that I need a sense of purpose doesn’t mean that I’ve 100% found what I think my “purpose” is already;  just knowing that it is something I am constantly striving toward understanding makes life feel more worthwhile.
  6. Laptop/ phone/ internet – while I’m a little sad to admit this makes it on to the list, there is just so much content I consume and so many tasks I perform that technology facilitates or makes much easier. The reason it makes me sad is because I think it’s often the case that these things play too large of a role in our lives, becoming habits or even safety blankets that prevent us from branching out and experiencing more in life. On a day-to-day basis, though, it would really be hard to live without these.
  7. Connection – I used to think I was so introverted that I didn’t really need to spend much time around people. It’s true, I can spend a lot of time alone and feel completely fine. But it has recently become clear to me how much more fulfilled I feel when I surround myself with people who bring me joy and “fill in the blanks” with alone time, even though (as an ?introvert?) it does drain me of energy sometimes. I underestimated how important friends and family were to my happiness, and after some lonely moments I decided to make changes to experience connection with other humans and enjoy their presence rather than defaulting to being alone.

Don’t forget to follow along with me, I’m blogging every day this month 🙂 what are some things you can’t live without?

-AK