Music: I could never do that… By Daniel Zambas
Whenever I talk to people about creating music I regular hear the statement “I could never do that”. What is it that makes people on the whole think this? Is there some magical ingredient that must be present to be a musician? I don’t think that there is. I personally feel that it is very much a learned behaviour, a language and like a language time must be spent to understand it.
As a child I was surrounded by music; it was the staple of car journeys, mealtimes and family get togethers. So far nothing unusual right? I had a healthy mix of classical music (as my mum is a pianist), albums from Phil Collins through to artists like the Beautiful South and Meat Loaf were part of my normality. Also at this point I remember singing along with music and realising that I rarely sang in tune, I could hear the melody and know where it was going but found it hard to reproduce it.
At the age of 16 I was getting exposed to music like Rage Against the Machine, Green Day and the Foo Fighters. I was excited by the electric guitar, the sounds I was hearing in my personal music collection felt like some grand unattainable expression that my only part in was to admire. I distinctly remember being intimidated by the guitar – how could I possibly learn to play one? I had toyed around with a classical guitar (£20 from the local catalogue store) before and never felt any progress or understanding of what I was trying to achieve. Then my mum bought me my first electric guitar and amplifier..
Like many others for the longest time I was terrible, my playing was clunky and out-of time. My hands would not co-ordinate, certain melodies would trip me up which in reality were not very complicated. But I was determined to achieve something; I wanted to learn to play ‘Everlong’ by the Foo Fighters. The pre-chorus of this song was the most uplifting thing I had ever heard, notes travelling up a scale and then falling back to a definitive note to anchor the moment. That was my goal. Honestly I am not sure how long this took but I doubt I was able to play this comfortably in my first 6 months of playing. I had my guitar at all times when I was home from school, my life revolved around it and my family (thankfully) put up with the noise..
Then something odd happened… I will from this point onwards in my life refer to these moments as ‘The Penny Drop’ because that’s exactly what happened. Something sunk in, the combination of hours and passion combined and at a certain point I realised I had developed something that had been absent before; I had a ‘feel’ for music. Something that was there but behind a door I had never opened before.. I believe we all have this door. The problem is how do we open our own one?
Fast forward a couple of years and I was getting pretty comfortable on the guitar. I had started learning things that were a bit trickier, tongue twisters for the fingers that pushed me onto the next level. Further ‘Penny Drops’ occurred with situations that opened more doors; like the relationship between notes & the syncopation of rhythm. Then I started to learn the piano.
The piano is what, for my own personal experience, turned me from a guitarist into a musician. To this day I feel more at home on a piano, I can play to myself without pause and enjoy the moment. A guitar has always felt like a peripheral instrument in my hands. This is a contradiction because in a way the guitar is my ‘can’t’ and this is only because I have not unlocked as many doors as I have on a piano.
So when someone says to me that they ‘can’t’ or ‘couldn’t possibly’ with music these experiences flash into my head because I know (to the point of dogma) that it is just a matter of hours and desire. The person who really means ‘I’m not really that bothered’ doesn’t actually mean ‘can’t’.. The person who smiles and says ‘I would love to but..’ I AM TALKING TO YOU.
What would you like to learn?
What music speaks to you the most?
That very moment you feel a passion and excitement is the exact right time to begin. Grab the first building block, spend time with someone who is already along their own musical journey and spend time alone putting the pieces together. You will learn music, and then you will tell others that they ‘can’.