Late night post, partly the fault of the topic. This week has been a week full of music. The Grand Porch Party last Sunday, playing bass with the Berliners, and then again for three sets at Souls for Milestones, and finally today at Open Streets in Uptown Waterloo. It’s also been a week full of learning and inspiration, both from friends and members of the community at Ignite Waterloo on Tuesday, and at a Hopespring professional development seminar yesterday. But I keep coming back to music.
I’ve played guitar off and on for about fourteen years, but never really for anyone. It was just this thing that I did once in a while for myself. It was a bit of fun, but I never made anything of it. I’d write little poems or songs, but couldn’t dream of actually playing for people, just jamming with friends every once in a while. But last summer, I wrote some songs for some friends, silly stuff mostly, you can see some of it on my music page. And they heard it. And they liked it. Making music had never seemed remarkable before, it was something I thought everyone did in one way or another. Turns out not. So I resolved to become less self-conscious about playing and singing , rented a decent mic, spent an eighteen hour weekend recording half an hour of music I was happy with, and put some of it online. And people liked it. I’m no Justin Bieber, but it gave me a pretty big confidence boost.
Karaoke helped too. I started going with friends, a lot of the time to bars where it was just us, and singing. I love singing. Guitar is fun, playing keyboard and bass is alright, but there’s something I find incredibly fun about the kinds of sounds I can make with my face. I’ve never had lessons, but did a bit of choir in high school and sing in the shower.
In November, I got an opportunity to play at a fundraiser. I decided it was my next big leap, and jumped at the chance. I was nervous as hell, though I’d juggled for plenty of crowds before, but got through it just fine. It was months later when I did my first open mic, this time with a guitar strap so I could play standing up and maybe look at the audience, and my knees were shaking as I fumbled my way through Hallelujah, which I’d learned two days before but really wanted to play. I also started playing with some friends, and we formed a band, Argyle Speedo (it’s a long story). I’d never made music with people like that before, only in choir, and it felt great to fall into a rhythm and relax. We just play covers, but there’s a sense of being in tune with each other, not just musically but mentally. I play bass with another band now, and once we get swinging, it’s the same feeling.
This week had two musical milestones, though. The first one was at Souls for Milestones, where I did a set with each band and a solo one. It was exhausting, but what made it moreso is that some of my professors were in the audience. Never before had my academic life and musical life collided. These were my mentors through undergrad and graduate school, and now they were going to hear me sing the Last Saskatchewan River Pirate while leaning over my guitar into a mic stand that doubled as a torture device. But it went great. There was rousing applause. The second was today, at Open Streets, where I just hung out on the street and played while people had fun around me. I was nervous at first, it wasn’t like playing a show. What if people didn’t like it? What if the organizers complained? I wasn’t there officially, after all. I’d thought I’d have other people there for support, and did for a while, but then I was on my own. All of my fears were unfounded, and I’m looking forward to coming back for the next Open Streets event.
I’ve come a long way in making and performing music just over the last year, and I did it all because I stopped letting my apprehension get in the way of doing something that I really loved and sharing it with people. And it’s been a really good week for that. Here, have some music.