While spending another early morning in the office working on new music, I saw a music video that hit close to home. The song is Brand New Numb by Motionless in White. Have a look....
The video made a big impact on me. I saw so much of myself in the main character. My childhood wasn't remarkable by any sense of the word. You could call me the cliche' long-haired, broody teenager who was either a drummer or a frontman for various high-school rock bands. I was raised in a broken home like most, but I was raised in a supportive, loving environment, for which I am grateful. As I struggled to find myself, like every other teenager out there, I had music.
Music was my outlet, it was my therapy, it was my protest. When I felt that nobody understood me, there was always a song out there that hit the nail on the head. Music showed me that there was indeed some people out there that "got it". Much like the main character of Motionless in White's video, music was my way to perform, to find a creative outlet and to dream of being a rock star.
I was encouraged to take band by my mother in junior high. I was a percussionist throughout school, but also began studying singing here and there. Symphonic percussion, drum corps and of course, my garage band on the side. Watching this video, I'm reminded how foundational those years were to my development and how they made me who I am.
In my senior year I was the singer for a local band that played at a battle of the bands competition at a nearby Catholic school. As I was up there in my sleeveless Sonic Drive-in employee shirt, my pair of Chuck Taylors and my pair of plaid "skids" skater pants singing Danzig's "Twist of Cain" in a Catholic school gymnasium (yes, I know), I remember one important detail....
My parents were there filming it all. Amidst the pounding PA and guitar amps, my mother and step-father were there cheering for me. I still have that VHS tape (don't judge me) of the performance that I'm inspired to dig out now. I also remember that after that show, my mother offered to pay for voice lessons so I could continue to study the craft.
Man.....crazy to think of what an impact that one event had on who I am today.
My first true passion was music. Beginning with school music education, partnered with support from my parents, it was my first form of expression and my first dream. Since then, I have been a retail manager, low-level computer programmer, salesman, locksmith, auto-body shop owner, culinary school grad and soldier. But here I am back where it began...music.
Life has taken me down many paths, not all of them were easy, but music was the constant. Now I can take the emotion, the life experience, the lessons learned and try to tell my story through music. It's a beautiful thing to be able to put a lifetime of emotion and experience into a song and share it with others. Such a simple thing, a 3-4 minute audio file or streaming link.....but when the creator's emotions and experiences are woven into the binary, it has a much more honorable purpose.
All this being said, it saddens me that with each passing year less and less emphasis is placed on music education for our children. The statistics have been around for decades proving that the arts improve a student's overall success in not just school, but life. Those arguments fall on deaf ears now, just as they did when the school music program of my youth was downsizing in favor of sports.
Why are the most successful bands from Gen-X and before? Why are the leading songs on today's market mostly from musicians over 40? The answer appears simple to me. We have stopped teaching our kids music. In doing so, we deny them the outlet and capacity to dream big...The outlet that has defined who I am personally.
Where does that leave us? Who knows. I know for one thing, I will continue to encourage my own children to express themselves through art...one form or another. Is music revival around the corner? One can only hope.