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‘THE HILLS ARE ALIVE ...’ (248) 543-0340 | www.janetdaviscleaners.com 27607Woodward Ave., Berkley, MI 48072 | 3645 Maple Rd., Bloomfield, MI 48301 My Teenage Foray Into the World of Music
While there is some confusion surrounding his date of birth, famous trumpeter, composer, and vocalist Louis Armstrong was born on Aug. 4, 1901. While I may not have quite reached Armstrong’s level of fame, I did spend years playing multiple instruments and was even part of the school band and jazz band for a few years. I was in the 7th grade when my parents decided it was time for my brother and sister to start learning to play the piano. I decided I wanted in on it, too, but I didn’t stop at the piano. I was going to learn to play the saxophone simultaneously. When I think back on my choice to start learning two completely different instruments at once, it makes me laugh because it’s emblematic of how I approach learning two trades as an adult now: Make the task as complex as possible, and then jump in with two feet! I took in-home lessons for the piano, and I remember my instructor really wanted me to focus on chord progression, but all I wanted to do was master full songs. The one I set my sights on was
Beethoven’s “Für Elise,” a nice sounding song everyone would recognize — if the song’s title doesn’t immediately ring a bell, a mere second or two of listening will jolt your memory. For the next several years, I continued to develop my skills, learning several classical songs. I was immensely drawn to one composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff, but I could never fully conquer his dark and complex piano concertos. One day when I retire, I’d like to try my hand at them again. My experience playing the saxophone was a bit shorter-lived but still enjoyable. I was in the middle school jazz band at the time, and I’m not entirely sure why I picked the sax. Looking back, learning the clarinet might have been a little easier, if only because it would fit in my backpack! I was always lugging that huge saxophone on and off the bus and to friends’ houses after school. I played in band until 9th grade, but I had to choose between marching band or cross country, and, since running was (and still is) my absolute favorite pastime, I opted out of band and focused on sports.
Although it’s been some time since I’ve practiced playing, everything I learned about jazz and classical music during those years has made me much more open to different genres of music as an adult. While I like some tunes better than others, I can find merit in songs of any genre and appreciate the creativity and talent of the songwriters and performers. Even in genres like country or heavy metal screamo, which I tend to shy away from, I can still detect melody and distinct chord progressions in some artists’ songs. I’ve even recently started to like techno/EDM, a genre I may have never considered if I hadn’t studied music. While I do a little more listening than playing nowadays, I’ve decided that once I have a little more free time (which is not anytime in the near future), I’m going to spend much more time at the piano. Maybe I’ll even squeeze in some practice runs before then.
“When I think back on my choice to start learning two completely different instruments at once, it makes me laugh because it’s emblematic of how I approach learning two trades as an adult now: Make the task as complex as possible, and then jump in with two feet!”
–Kyle Matthews 1 (248) 543-0340janetdaviscleaners.com
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