What is it about music that influences a musician’s life so deeply?
There are many answers to this question. Here are a few that come closest to answering this question. Although, for each of us, we have different routes we take to connect with our music. No two musicians will be influenced in the same way.
I’d say it is mainly the music we heard as a child that grabbed our attention and got our minds dancing to the tunes and our hearts fell in love with the sound. Surrounded by the joy, the vibrancy, it cheered our souls. This became a daily dose we sought out on purpose, and though it might have begun as singing nursery rhymes and jump-rope songs, we then went on to other songs taught at school, and heard at church and on the radio.
I think of these very young children, four or five years old, who have a favorite singer and song where they will memorize the song’s words and all the performer’s dance moves. There are dozens of YouTube videos with these young entertainers - cute, adorable, and amazing - as they take their first step into the world of music. You love them, and the passion is inspirational.
My Uncle Dean Couch inspired me more than anyone I know. He would come to our house and would sit on our front porch and play guitar for hours. It was at that moment that music took hold of me, and it has remained as much a part of me as an arm or a foot. Nothing will ever prevent me from doing what I love until death ends this life of mine. And if they have a guitar in the afterlife, that’s what I’ll be doing. I am sure of one thing: music chose me and I’m glad; it’s what I love.
I’ll play my guitar for anyone who wants to listen. So far, everyone I’ve met has enjoyed my work and given me positive feedback. They know I play my music from the heart. And it’s for my enjoyment as much as it is for theirs.
Yes, music is a part of my life. It never grows old or bores me, even though I play seven days a week. It is my cure for whatever ails me, whether it’s stress from some trouble present in my life, or whatever. Music is the safest way to relieve stress. Every frustration I have, I take it out on my guitar strings, and when I’m finished I feel refreshed and ready for whatever new task will head my way.
Many musicians play their instruments just for the pure enjoyment of it. Today I saw a 16-year-old boy playing a beautiful Martin D-28. He was having a hard time getting a song’s chords right. It was a song I’ve played for years. I asked, ”Would you like to learn an easier way to play that song?”
He never said one word. He handed me the guitar and I played the song for him. I explained what chords I played it in and he watched me. When I handed him the guitar, he played the song almost all the way through and when he was done, he shook my hand. He said, “Thank you. I was wondering what chord I was missing and I know now thanks to you.”
I felt I’d accomplished something and it feels good. “How long have you been playing?” I said. He smiled. “One year today, so this is a milestone for me.” “Keep up your practicing, and one day you’ll be a great guitarist.” What I thoroughly enjoyed was his attentiveness. It is this kind of devotion that turns a novice into a master. I bet he’s playing that song right now.
I’d love it if more like him were out there learning a craft to become the best musician they can be. Listening and paying attention is a musician’s strongest attribute, especially if you are a beginner. My advice to all novice musicians: “Pay attention to your instructor and you'll go farther than you could ever imagine. That’s how you make music the major influence in your life.”
-JD Couch - MU Columnist