Rockstars Are Not Always Famous

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

I was sitting there frustrated, so I closed my notebook, shut my laptop, and placed my guitar back in the corner. How could I think teaching myself an instrument was possible? If I couldn’t play music, I was going to listen to some instead. I went to my room and turned on some typical rock and roll songs like “Dani California” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows. All it took was the one minute solo, adapted from the immortal Jimi Hendrix’s intro to “Purple Haze” and craftily positioned right at the end of “Dani California,” before the hairs on my arms stood tall and I got the chills. I was motivated.

Little by little, I began to improve. That feeling of satisfaction when I play through a song with the correct rhythm and hit every note with precision is uncomparable to any other feeling in the world. It is almost addicting. It makes you wonder what you can learn next in the endless world of music. I decided next to learn a tougher song by my all time favorite artist, Zella Day. But I remember thinking to myself, “how can I learn this when I can’t read sheet music and she is too much of an insider’s weapon to be on guitartab.com?”

I decided that the answer was to watch her play hundreds of times, whether it was live at her shows or through the wonderful world of YouTube videos. The tricky part about this is that the song is not played exactly the same each time. Zella Day once said something that really resonated with me, she said, “my right hand is sort of like my identity; it gives me the ability to make the sound of the chord unique and play it thousands of different ways, where my left hand plays the same chords as every artist.” To me, this was so relatable. I was playing every chord right but the music still sounded off from the artist. That was what she meant by finding your identity. Every artist plays the same chords, but everyone does it uniquely.

Once again I sat down in my room all alone and after many hours and a lot of frustration, I had finally learned and perfected Zella Day’s acoustic version of her song “Hypnotic.” I felt satisfied with what I had just accomplished, but at the same time I felt empty. What could I do now and what are some good song options to learn next? That is the special relationship between me and guitar; I am not playing to pursue a career in music or to achieve any type of musical statue. I am playing because I enjoy that moment of satisfaction at the end that quickly fades away leaving you craving something new. In an interview at The Patch Zella Day said, “I don’t think even now I have found my sound. Because I think that is when everything becomes dull, the second you think you’ve found your greatness, it is not really relatable anymore by people.” Every day, Zella inspires me to want to keep learning new things.

It is a reminder there is always room for improvement and that it is good for the chase to perfection to be never ending, because once you are satisfied there is always something more that you will want . In the world of music, I do not think there is ever an ending. There is always another song to learn and another way to play it. Music is definitely an identity and can tell you a lot about a person. Music helps read into people’s souls and in between the lines exposing the person’s levels of persistency and strong work ethic. Music is a passion and is taken on by the people who have creative souls and never want to settle for average or the bare minimum.

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