Since I became interested in popular music in high school and joined or started plenty of bands, so many changes have happened in my personal style and understanding of how music works. I've learned an insane amount about playing guitar, and about what sorts of things sound good to my ear. I've gone from playing simple "power" chords and not understanding how to form a barre chord to playing guitar in several of my college jazz ensembles. Regardless, all of my change as a musician didn't happen overnight. I didn't wake up one morning knowing how to form seventh chords and feeling like I could express myself through guitar. I started out by listening to other people play the guitar and trying to emulate every intricate detail of what they did so that I could add their technique, style and licks to my internal mental repertoire. Even today, I enjoy sitting own and studying a player to learn what they do. While my other studies limit how much of this I can do, I like to incorporate what other people do into how I play.
Throughout high school, the bands I had been in followed a variety of goals and styles. The Order started out as a "hard rock," band playing plenty of original music as well as covers. We had a somewhat stereotypical "loud" sound, featuring lots and lots of distortion. The band eventually split into a few other groups, which became The Sun Stands Still, which at first played "metal," and The Unsung Heroes, which went from a family jam band to an alternative/country/rock band. We've quite literally covered everything from Radiohead to Big & Rich, while writing in our own style, featuring plenty of intricate progressions and good, fun and emotional music. Since then, The Sun Stands still has become more of an "indie/alt" band that has a very distinct sound. In that band, I now play drums and some backup guitar on songs that require it, expanding my own musical boundaries even further.
Even throughout the course of one band, we've sampled a plethora of styles. Personally, a lot of this has come from the inspiration of the people around me. Even as I listen to this, I'm listening to a mix of my own bands' music and local bands from around home. All of these groups around me that I've seen grow as I have have inspired me to push the musicality of my writing, from simple chords to more intricate partwriting and music. All of these groups have pushed their musicality, tonally and stylistically, as well as how they perform and play off of one another. So many groups have incorporated emotionally expressive dynamics and make their music literally tell as much of a story as their lyrics do.
Since I've come to school, I've seen even more groups perform that have encouraged me to do more musically. Take 6, a contemporary a cappella group inspired me to join Surround Sound, or on-campus a cappella group. Seeing people like Patrick Droney and Chris Cauley perform on campus have inspired me to write more music and seek out vocalists for "acoustic" gigs and re-work some of my and my bands' music to work in different settings.
There's so much incredible music that we've come up with that I want so desperately to get on a stage with a guitar and a microphone and share the beautiful message of everything that we've written. Share my story and be an inspiration to someone else, so that they too could have a revelation that they love an instrument and want to play it.
As much as all this popular music has been inspiring, fellow students and even faculty have been inspiring to me. I love being a member of my jazz orchestra and combo at school. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the strongest player, because I haven't honestly played jazz for that long, but sitting in our rehearsals and performances and hearing Aaron bust out an incredible drum solo, or Trent play a solo, or even listening to Scott improvise or play lead, can be so awesome to hear and see.
I want to dedicate all of my life to this amazing thing that I am so lucky to spend my time doing. It might frustrate me a lot. At times, it's nearly impossible to keep playing and work through how annoying a lick can be. At the end of the day, I improve. I become a stronger person because I can express myself in music, and I become a better musician because I learn more every day. I love everything about what I do, no matter how painful the experience sometimes is. All of it is a growing experience, and I always learn from it. Music is everything that I do.