Musically Literate.

ENGL 106, Spring 2014, Ms Grant.

March 14, 2014 4:42 am

Literacy Sponsors: A Voyage Through My Sponsorships in Music

Music. Whether it is the melancholic sonata that lingers near the end of a concerto, the underlying beat of an indie rock group, the vocals of a pop single, or the steady cadence of a march, music has touched, inspired, and motivated almost everyone that has had the chance to hear it in some way. In a world where technology allows one to listen to music at the click of a mouse, the exposure to this literacy has never been higher. I am fortunate enough to have deep rooted connections with music, from listening to performing to arranging.  Starting from my first piano lessons to having my own music published, I have come a long way in my literacy, thanks to the sponsors who have allowed my musical talents not only to grow, but to flourish.

As the eldest child of an Indian household, I was raised to shine in everything that I had committed to. Whether it was maintaining high grades, studying above and beyond in mathematics and the sciences, playing soccer and basketball, or acquiring a plethora of talents, I was always exposed to new things and driven to excel. One of the things that I attempted was playing the piano. In first grade, I started learning piano from a college student, Jessica. The plan was straightforward; lessons every Tuesday for half an hour, practice for half an hour to an hour every day, and keep learning as much as I could. Studying the notation of music was simple, and I flew through the basics with ease. The mechanics of piano were much harder to master; it took much more practice to learn how to play. However, after my teacher organized the first “concert”, I was hooked. I wanted to learn how to play extravagant pieces, such as Mozart’s Moonlight or Fur Elise, and while I didn’t know the names of the wonderfully sounding pieces, I knew that music was something I wasn’t going to give up on.

While I used a real piano at my teacher’s house, my first and second “pianos” were actually keyboards. The first one was extremely small and was only useful for about 6 months before I had to upgrade to a larger keyboard. And while the second keyboard wasn’t as good as a real piano, it was the best we could get for the small amount of space we had. The keyboard though allowed me to see what notes I was playing and what chords were possible; it really just was fun for me to fiddle with for hours on end. And though I wasn’t a virtuoso, the keyboard engaged me in music more than anything ever did when I was younger. It captured my imagination, allowing me to experiment with it and just enjoy fiddling with all the different instrument sounds that were programmed into the keyboard. While it wasn’t apparent to me at the time, music was a way for me to play, feel good when I improved, and have an excellent time both listening and performing.

While I continued to play piano as I headed into middle school, it was also mandatory for students to take a music class for all four years—Band, Chorus, or Orchestra—in addition to whatever classes they were taking on the side. Unfortunately, none of these classes allowed me to play the piano. So I joined band in hopes that I would get one of the fifteen lottery spots as a percussionist. As luck would have it, I would get to be a percussionist! I was ecstatic; hitting drums is every child’s dream. But I didn’t know that there would also be a chance to play percussive instruments such as the marimba or xylophone. That’s where my piano skills would come in handy! It was easy to pick those up and I was able to play any instrument from the percussion section. And while I wasn’t as good as some of the kids in my grade at rhythm percussion, I was definitely the best keyboard percussionist there. Performing pieces with a group of friends in middle school inspired me to continue to play in a group, and improve as a musician.

These sponsors helped grow an exposure to musical literacy into a fully fledged immersion. While I was not the next Mozart, I had been immersed in the cannons of the 1812 overture, the sweeping crescendos of Moonlight Sonata, and the solos of marches and rock songs alike. What started as a spark of wonder that my parents had given me with a keyboard had grown, fueled by my piano teacher and the experiences of class with my bandmates, igniting into a passion for music. As a means to make friends, to express myself, and to get better, musical literacy has allowed me to improve in almost all facets of my life, either directly or indirectly. And while sponsorships in literacy can be attributed to just one person, it can also come from a group of people, an entire community, or even people that you have never met.  

pursuit of music, even if it started as a hobby.

Making friends through music isn’t something one person would expect; however, playing in a band or other instrument group allows you to connect with the people you play with, or even people who play instruments in general. Both middle and high school band were pleasant experiences for me, not just musically but socially as well. Connecting with the people who play the same music or the same instruments as me, sharing inside jokes between fellow band members, and practicing together was all a part of my musical experience. It was through my fellow classmates and band directors where I learned that music wasn’t just about how mechanically well you played the pieces you were given, but also how you synergized with other members and played with them.

While playing music itself is a key component to musical literacy, another aspect of this literacy is listening to music. Music can be listened to for leisure, as ambient noise, for entertainment, or just as a social get together. As there are many genres of music, with many new songs released daily, there is always new music for one to listen to and experience. In particular, Pandora, Spotify, and even Youtube are good services for discovering new types of music. With this vast array of tools to listen to music at everyone’s fingertips, one can explore various different bands, genres, groups, orchestras…the list goes on. And with these tools, one can show their friends and develop bonds with others through music. Music isn’t just a tool to isolate one from the world around them (as seen by many people nowadays walking around with headphones in their ears), but is also a way for people to connect to their friends, emotions, thoughts, moods, and activities. And while playing music is an important part in my musical literacy, listening to music holds a just as if not more important place in my own literacy.

Around 8th grade, I began listening to modern music in addition to the copious amounts of classical and jazz music that were constantly playing at home. The instrument that stood out to me the most was the guitar; it sounded great and was just all around fun to play. My parents acquiesced to my constant begging for a guitar, purchasing a small acoustic for my birthday. I fell in love with playing the guitar the day I received it, strumming on the strings and experimenting with chords, pretending I was Bob Dylan or a member of an upcoming rock group. Soon, I began taking guitar lessons alongside the piano lessons; while this did take up a good amount of time, it was well worth it. I loved both the guitar and the piano for different reasons; guitar was about setting up your notes with one hand and the rhythm with another, while piano was about balancing everything perfectly so that the music comes to together in an elegant euphony. I loved to play music, even if I only had time to play an hour each day.

As I began high school, I was starting to write my own small pieces of music, as 9 years of practicing instruments gave me a good foundation on what music chords and general consonances are pleasant to listen to. Experimenting with software such as Synthesia, East West Symphonic Orchestra and FL Studio, I was writing and arranging my own pieces as a side hobby. Making my own music was a little thing I did in my spare time. But this turned out to be more than just a hobby when my High School teacher took interest in my pieces after I asked him for help. After he discovered my hobby, he allowed me to help arrange pieces for the band and symphonic orchestra. As I gained confidence to continue with my music arrangement, I started posting my music on forums and websites online. This caught the eye of a few other people, and allowed me to compose a few songs for an extremely a popular webcomic. My sponsors allowed me not only to play music adeptly, but to compose pieces and succeed in my pursuit of musical literacy.

Music is undoubtedly a literacy that almost everyone can say they have had some part in. Whether it’s playing, composing, or even listening, music can inspire and allow one to communicate beyond words. As a friend of mine so aptly put it; “Imagine a dying alcoholic Russian with tuberculosis sitting in a musty, windowless room, pouring his heart out onto paper, writing out the music that only he can hear in his head. I can play that music centuries later and reach a connection with him that no words can describe.

“If that is not communication, if that is not language…then I am a bigger fool than I ever thought.”

March 4, 2014 6:20 am
default album art record default album art default album art CD reflection
  • A Bright Future
  • By: Arnav "Aaron" Mithal
  • 0 Plays

In the summer, I lost much of my inspiration. It was after school had ended but before any of my summer programs had started, and I had little to do other than sit around at home for the most of the day. So I decided to create something motivating from anew. Something to help me get through the few weeks in between the end of school and the true start of summer. In the end, this was the result!

Music can be more than just a means of expression or emotion. It can motivate and inspire people, both in  listening and playing music. My literacy of music allowed me to recognize that music was not just a routine, everyday thing; it is an art, an means of expression, an inspiration, and much much more than just sounds.

March 3, 2014 2:55 pm
default album art record default album art default album art CD reflection
  • Sae
  • By: Arnav "Aaron" Mithal
  • 0 Plays

This is actually a piece of recorded music that I composed for the piano, which I played on. A little jazzy, with phrases of graceful legato interspersed with a little bit of playful staccato. I enjoyed how it turned out. I made this song for my friend, as a little gift. Music itself can be more than just something to listen to; it can be an emotional song to express oneself, or to express a connection between people.

Sorry for the low quality, I was using a webcam to record everything!

5:24 am

Listening to Music.

While playing music itself is a key component to musical literacy, another aspect of this literacy is listening to music. Music can be listened to for leisure, as ambient noise, for entertainment, or just as a social get together. As there are many genres of music, with many new songs released daily, there is always new music for one to listen to and experience. In particular, Pandora, Spotify, and even Youtube are good services for discovering new types of music. With this vast array of tools to listen to music at everyone’s fingertips, one can explore various different bands, genres, groups, orchestras…the list goes on. And with these tools, one can show their friends and develop bonds with others through music. Music isn’t just a tool to isolate one from the world around them (as seen by many people nowadays walking around with headphones in their ears), but is also a way for people to connect to their friends, emotions, thoughts, moods, and activities. And while playing music is an important part in my musical literacy, listening to music holds a just as if not more important place in my own literacy.

2:51 am

Friends through music?

Making friends through music isn’t something one person would expect; however, playing in a band or other instrument group allows you to connect with the people you play with, or even people who play instruments in general. High school band was a fun experience for me, not just musically but socially as well. Connecting with the people who play the same music or the same instruments as me, sharing inside jokes between fellow band members, and practicing together was all a part of my musical experience. It was through my fellow classmates and band directors where I learned that music wasn’t just about how mechanically well you played the pieces you were given, but also how you synergized with other members and played with them. 

February 17, 2014 6:08 am

Music Theory.

As I started high school, I was starting to write a little of my own music, as 9 years of playing music gave me a good starting point on what music chords and general consonances are pleasant to listen to. Experimenting with software such as Synthesia, East West Symphonic Orchestra and FL Studio. Making my own music was a little thing I did in my spare time. However this turned out to be more than just a hobby; I helped arrange some pieces for my high school band and orchestra. Later, I also helped compose a few songs for an extremely a popular webcomic. All the years of experience of playing music helped in my knowledge of how to compose music.

image

Image source: http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/Tmv99xktKsc/maxresdefault.jpg

5:18 am

Another Instrument?

In around 6th or 7th grade, I started listening to modern music in addition to my jazz and classical that were at home. The instrument that stood out to me the most was the guitar; it sounded great and was just all around fun to play. My parents acquiesced to my constant begging for a guitar, getting me a small acoustic one for my birthday. Instantly, I fell in love with playing the guitar, strumming on the strings and just experimenting with it in general. Soon, I started taking guitar lessons alongside the piano lessons; while this did take up a good amount of time, it was well worth it. I loved both the guitar and the piano for different reasons; guitar was about setting up your notes with one hand and the rhythm with another, while piano was about about balancing everything perfectly. I loved to play music, even if I only had time to play half an hour each day.

image

Image source: http://www.dv247.com/assets/products/30619_l.jpg

5:05 am

Middle School Band!

Going into middle school, it was mandatory for students to take a music class for all four years; either Band, Chorus, or Orchestra. Unfortunately, none of these classes allowed me to play the piano. So I joined band in hopes that I would get one of the 15 spots as a percussionist (it was a lottery sort of thing, put your name in a hat and hope you get chosen). As luck would have it, I would get to be a percussionist! I was ecstatic; hitting drums is every child’s dream. But I didn’t know that there would also be able to play percussive instruments like the marimba or xylophone. That’s where my piano skills would come in handy! It was easy to pick those up and I was able to play any instrument from the percussion section. And while I wasn’t as good as some of the kids in my grade at rhythm percussion, I was definitely the best keyboard percussionist there. Playing with a group of friends in middle school to make fun music made me want to play more, and improve as a musician.

image

(Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/48/Percussion_for_The_Mikado.jpg)

4:54 am

Making do with a keyboard.

While I used a real piano at my teacher’s house, my first and second “pianos” were actually keyboards. The first one was extremely small and was only useful for about 6 months before I had to upgrade to a larger keyboard. And while the second keyboard wasn’t as good as a real piano, it was the best we could get for the small amount of space we had. The keyboard though allowed me to see what notes I was playing and what chords were possible; it really just was fun for me to fiddle with for hours on end. It captured my imagination, allowing me to experiment with it and just have fun with all the different instrument sounds. While it wasn’t apparent to 7-year-old me at the time, music was just a way for me to play, feel good when I improved, and just have a good time.

image

Image source: http://www.virtualpiano.net/images/CMAGICS_Virtual_Piano.jpg

4:44 am

How I got started in music.

As a kid brought up by Indian parents, they had very high expectations from me. Have to be excellent in school, get ahead in math and science, go play soccer and basketball, and be able to acquire a plethora of talents. One of the things that I tried was playing the piano. In first grade, I started learning piano from a college student, Jessica. The plan was simple; lessons every Tuesday for half an hour, practice for half an hour to an hour every day, and keep learning as much as I could. Learning to read the notation of music was easy, and I learned to play pieces at a good rate. The mechanics of piano were much harder to master; it took much more practice to learn how to play. However, after my teacher organized the first “concert”, I was hooked. I wanted to learn how to play extravagant pieces, such as Mozart’s Moonlight or Fur Elise, and while I didn’t know the names of the wonderfully sounding pieces, I knew that music was something I wasn’t going to give up on.