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The Journey of an Attempt Pt. 1: Learning the Opposite Ends of the Musical Instrument Spectrum: Viol


My first instrument was the violin, and I started in fourth grade just like almost everyone else. One of the teachers came around to every room of 4th graders with a list of instruments and asked if anyone wanted to learn an instrument. Right before the teacher left I asked for a list and started looking it over and when I got home I looked it over with my parents and ended up choosing violin. The nerd that I am wanted to learn the ocarina instead of violin. By the way, look up Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time if you’re not familiar with this instrument. I wanted to learn all the short songs from the game but of course they didn’t have it so I settled with violin (one of these days I’ll learn Makar’s theme from Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker because that song was played on a violin and it is awesome). So since I chose violin, and not drums because they didn’t interest me at the time, I was the only male violinist in my elementary school and surprisingly didn't get made fun of for it till around 6th or 7th grade. For the first year it was alright. I learned the basics and the teacher was awesome, except it was her last year and no one knew who the new teacher would be or how they would compare to this incredible teacher we had for our first year. The new teacher was probably more suited for younger kids (like 1st through 3rd grade) because her way of explaining things was, for lack of better words, "too cutesy" for how I learn. But she at least tried and I will give her that. But violin soon became less and less fun and I contemplated quitting almost every week but I thought "It could get better." She was our teacher/conductor up until 8th grade. Reason why there was a weird almost out of the blue change of teachers was because my town had two junior high schools and they got merged into one in my second year of junior high, 8th grade (which is apparently different from other school districts). We then got the teacher/orchestra conductor from the other junior high and to simply put it, and I will break the caps lock rule of the internet for this, SHE WAS INCREDIBLE! She was nice when she needed to be, but put the fear of God in students when needed, and she knew exactly what she was talking about and could explain it so people could understand no matter what their learning style was. But I still had one problem with orchestra that stayed with me till 12th grade. We, as an orchestra, never played anything heavy or modern, yes classical can be heavy, I try to write my classical music at least somewhat heavy sometimes because the classical genre needs more heaviness. But as an orchestra we got to perform old classical pieces for concerts while the band kids got to play more current songs from artists like Elvis, Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, and even The Beatles. But it was probably for the best because without those old pieces I may not have been able to write the classical music that I can today.

Now to backtrack a little bit. I always wanted to learn another instrument but I always felt like I never had time or had the ability. Surprisingly, elementary school had more homework than junior high, at least in my case. That’s where the feeling of having constrained time came in. I also felt like I could never learn another instrument because violin was hard enough as it was and I was only a second violinist. For those who don’t know what this means it means I was in the section of supporting violinists. The first violins are similar to lead guitar while second violins are rhythm guitar. So here's where things get into how nerdy I can be (even though I proved my pride in being a nerd with the Legend of Zelda references before). During my seventh grade year (2007) I heard about the new music game called Rock Band. I thought it was just another Guitar Hero knock off, but then I heard about the other instruments the game simulates and how fun it was and I was sold. So I saved up my money for the rest of the school year which was from about November to early June and got the game with all the controllers. I got it the day school let out which of course made that day even better. Once I got it home the first thing I wanted to do was set up the drum controller. I can’t explain it any other way other than I felt an invisible pull that I haven’t felt since the day I got the paper with the list of instruments on it in 4th grade. Once I saw it and how big it was I knew “This is going to be the most fun for me by far.” I set up the controller with the help of my dad and from that day till the end of the summer I beat the crap out of that controller every day trying to get to expert level as fast as I could. At first I could barely even play on easy. I failed so many times the first day of playing it that when I finally passed a song by the skin of my teeth the victory was that much better. By the end of the summer though, I was able to get through a few songs on expert with almost no problem. Of course there were a lot of songs that were out of my league but I would still try them from time to time. The best thing I could ever hope for happened on Christmas of 2008. First I got a new controller with the reinforced drum pads and bass pedal because my drum controller was held together by gorilla glue and various types of tapes ranging from painters, duct, and packing tape. Then I unwrapped a DVD and it was entitled “Learn to Play Drums” or something along that line. I was confused because I had no drum kit. My parents just told me “You can use the controller to learn. It comes with cymbals right?” I was of course slightly surprised that they would get me something that I wouldn’t be able to use. But then I went into the kitchen and saw a huge box wrapped up like it was another Christmas present. I unwrapped it and it was a drum kit from Sam’s Club that I have had my eye on and I have also tried out in the store multiple times. It was a Starcaster by Fender and it wasn’t bad considering a guitar company made a drum kit. The lesson Sam’s Club learned was: do not just let a kit out in the open with a pair of sticks because people will try it out. And I did...the entire time my parents would be shopping. So apparently my parents got it around July when I was probably only on medium difficulty in Rock Band but they saw how much I played the game and how driven I was to get to expert that they got me a real kit. They hid the kit under the stairs in the basement and put a drape over it and I never even noticed it. The only problem with this kit was it was very, VERY basic. It had no ride cymbal which is pretty damn necessary for any drum kit. So until I got one I made due with what I had, which meant hitting the ride tom whenever I had to hit the ride cymbal.

The learning process of drums was kind of different. I didn’t really use the DVD my parents got me too much because it didn’t really do the visual parts well. So instead I used Rock Band’s practice mode and played along with the notes on the screen using the real drum kit. To do this I read the chart on the screen as follows: red=snare, yellow=hihat, left tom, and very rarely a suspended cymbal, blue=ride cymbal, right tom, and sometimes a crash/ride cymbal, green=floor tom and crash cymbal (the tom drums can be reversed for a left handed player). I did this for a while then around summer 2011 or so I started to slowly learn how to play by ear. Which was difficult for me up until I found the song Cure by Metallica, it was the first song I learned by ear and after that it became so much easier. Eventually, I was able to play One, Master of Puppets, and a few songs off of the Load and ReLoad albums (my two favorite Metallica albums) all by ear. As my skill on this instrument got better I started to add to it little by little. The order of the additions to the kit goes something similar to ride cymbal, double bass pedal, cowbell, tambourine, crash/ride cymbal, china cymbal, and splash cymbal. I of course had set backs and off-days, then there were days I could follow along with a single bass pedal version of Through the Fire and the Flames (back when I used Guitar Hero and Rock Band to learn songs) or be able to put more double bass hits on the double bass section of One. That last one hurt the lower abs like you couldn’t believe but I did it. I also realized that off-days set me back at max 3-6 months of skill. So the better I got, the less the severity of an off day was. What was amazing was I wasn’t behind the kit for more than a year and a half till I formed my first “band.”

#Beinginaband #drums #firstband #learningmusictheory #learninganinstrument #musichistory #rockmusic #violin #classicalmusic #firstalbum #musicwriting

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