How I Became A Musician
It was many years ago when I started playing musical instruments. Little did I know when I picked up the trumpet at 9 years old that it would lead me to start playing piano 4 years later, and eventually, become a film and relaxation music composer.
My musical journey has been an interesting, yet rewarding one. I love sitting down at the piano and playing whatever comes to me in that moment. I also the love the creative process and seeing what I can do with just a few notes and morphing that into a musical composition. So how did learning how to play the trumpet eventually lead into my compositional education, and ultimately, career? Let me share this story with you.
I was interested in learning some kind of musical instrument in elementary school so I chose the trumpet, mainly because my dad played the trumpet throughout high school. I gave this instrument a shot and I enjoyed it a decent amount, but not nearly as much as I would enjoy the piano (as I would eventually discover.)
I took trumpet lessons for many years, but it was just a challenging instrument for me to get really good at. One of the issues with this was that I had originally learned the instrument the wrong way with how my embouchure was (the way in which a player applies their mouth to the mouthpiece.) While most trumpet players play with the lips inside the mouthpiece, I got used to playing with my lips sticking over the top of the mouthpiece. This created a lot of issues with my tone later on.
It turns out that these issues were more of a blessing in disguise than I had realized. One day I watched the movie Ground Hog day. There was a scene in this film that really caught my interest. If you haven’t seen this movie, it was the scene where Bill Murray is in the coffee shop listening to Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C Major. I thought this piece was beautiful and it inspired me to take piano lessons.
It turned out this was a good idea because I picked up the piano lessons fast. I progressed through the workbooks quickly and my technique got really good. Fast forward to when I first heard the new age piano artist Michael Jone’s music for the first time. I fell in love with this style of music and started teaching myself how to improvise. If you haven’t heard of Michael Jones, he does a lot of solo relaxing piano music. Other popular artists in this genre are David Nevue, George Winston, and Brian Crain.
This kind of solo piano music really captivated me because it took me into another world. This other world consists mainly of nature, as the titles of this genre of music suggests (ex. First Snowfall, Echoes in the Canyon, First Sunrise, etc.)
At one point in my career I had to make a very important decision that would ultimately change my life. I ended up playing the trumpet for ten years. I played the trumpet all four years in high school in the marching band and even a couple of years in college. It was coming to a vital point where my tone was stuck at a certain point and just wasn’t getting better. I had a choice to continue to try and get better at trumpet and force myself to be happy with that choice, or switch to playing piano in college.
I chose to go with piano and it was a great decision. Throughout college I realized that I did not want to be a concert pianist and spend all my days in white, musty practice rooms practicing for concerts. My thought process was “why waste my time performing other people’s music when I could be creating my own?” After some time practicing piano improvisation in the relaxing solo piano style, I got quite good at it. I realized I had a knack for composition during my transition from trumpet to piano in my first couple of years in college. I even made a couple of CDs many years, but didn’t know nearly as much about marketing as much as I do today.
I decided to pursue my composition degree at the University of Arizona. I have always wanted to make music for film though (and honestly, I can’t remember when that started.) They focused mainly on 20th century music so I got a good sense of what atonality was. This was helpful because later on I discovered how much of a passion I have for horror films and horror film music.
During my time at the University of Arizona I decided I wanted to go to attend the UCLA Film Scoring Program. I moved out to LA after living in Arizona most of my life to pursue my dreams of making music for film and relaxation. I learned a lot from both the University of Arizona and the UCLA film-scoring program. Both programs were great decision to develop my talent as a musician and composer.
Despite the many challenges of the career path I have chosen, it is ultimately worth it making music and having people tell you they love it.
But perhaps more important than all of that, it’s YOU, the listener, that makes all of it worthwhile. Here’s to hoping that you are a part of that journey.
If you’d like to hear the most recent milestone of that journey, click here to listen to my newest album “First Snowfall.”
Thank you for being a listener and for making it all matter.