Hi there everyone!!
In grade four, I had a friend who was a bad influence on me. His name was Timmy, and he coerced me into causing trouble, getting myself into mischief, being crude, and even stealing money!
One time we were in music class, and instead of paying attention to the teacher, Timmy was telling me how bad our school was. He said that so many other schools got to use musical instruments, and we had nothing!
The First Major Chord
Our teacher overheard this conversation and interrupted. She explained how the first instrument mankind had was their vocal chords. Mastering our own bodies helps us in mastering any instrument.
This teacher, whose name I don’t remember, made an impact on me. I wanted to sing! However, though I was intrigued by music, my efforts didn’t make my singing any better.
In retrospect, I can see how that happened. None of the song lyrics were printed big enough for me to read, and I couldn’t see anything written on the blackboard. But I don’t want to be a broken record as I’ve shared this frustration before…
The Next Measure
In high-school, it was compulsory to take one “arts credit” which could be either a visual arts, drama, or music class. All three options were not available to me, because of my “sight” impairment.
Through my involvement in Christian youth parliament, I was again exposed to the joy of singing. I was inspired to write poems, and wrote the theme song to two of the annual youth parliaments.
Sharpening the Notes
After participating in many personal development programs while in high-school, I began to adopt the attitude that there are no barriers in the pursuits of my passions.
With this new attitude, in my last year of high-school I enrolled in grade nine music class and learned how to play the viola. I had to choose the viola, because all the other string instruments were bigger and would create more distance between my eyes and the sheet music I needed to see.
My sheet music was magnified by a factor of five so I could see it. But I still had to be so close to the paper, that I wasn’t able to use my bow. Instead, I would have to learn the music by plucking my fingers on the strings.
My hearing was never great. I’m tone-deaf, and this was confirmed when I took a hearing pitch test and failed miserably. What’s worse, is when most people hear that I am legally blind, they assert (sometimes insist) that I must have superpower hearing capabilities.
Down an Octave
I never got good at playing the viola. So, the following year, I took piano lessons, which I paid for out of my own pocket. It was fun, but it was still a visual struggle.
The next year, I paid for private singing lessons. That gave me more confidence, but I don’t think it has affected my performance.
Maybe I’m just not meant to sing or play a musical instrument. God knows, I’ve tried.
Immersed in computers as a teenager, I learned to program all sorts of music and sound effects that were very impressive. I worked all summer at a job so that I could afford to upgrade my PC speaker into a professional sound card. It was called the “AdLib” Music Card. It was so cool.
I did my grade twelve independent study on producing a digitized song on my computer.
The following month, a new “SoundBlaster” card came out, which did so much more than the AdLib card. And it just wasn’t a fad. The SoundBlaster would become the default standard for all sounds on PC’s, lasting to this day.
Baseline Rhythm & Blues
Should I just be a big fan? My favorite band of all time is Bon Jovi. I’ve been to several of their concerts over the years, but have always gotten very poor seats either because of pricing, or because of supply.
One day I was at a charity auction that claimed to have front-row-seats to a Bon Jovi concert. Even though I already had tickets, I bid the highest price because I wanted front row seats! However, when I did go to the concert, I was informed that my tickets were only general admission! It was difficult to even enjoy that concert after such a horrible letdown.
Just last night, I was with friends at a karaoke bar, and was encouraged to sing. Since I couldn’t see the big screen, we made special arrangements for me to sing in the DJ booth where I could look at the source tablet screen closely.
That helped, but the text wasn’t really big enough. Plus, my whole body was in an awkward position with the microphone, my face, and the tablet scrunched together. Good thing I picked one of my favorite Bon Jovi songs, which I had memorized back as a teenager.
I made a few mistakes—my memory isn’t perfect. And it also doesn’t feel great to be confined to a small set of songs I have memorized, instead of having full access to all of the songs I am able to recall just by song title.
Jazzing It Up a Little
What if I was encouraged to take one of the compulsory high-school credits in the arts?
I wouldn’t have wanted to do “visual arts” because I still don’t want to do that now. (I’ve experimented with paint café’s.)
In music, I still wouldn’t be great, but perhaps I would have enjoyed the process a whole lot more.
What about drama? I’ve been doing improv for many years and loving it tremendously. Some would say I am pretty good at it now. But how good could I have been if I started taking drama at the beginning of high-school?
It’s never too late… Except part of “improv” is musical improv. Should I take “musical improv” classes now?
Do you like irony? My most notable accomplishment thus far is competing at the District 60 regional Toastmasters conference with an improvised speech. The speech topic given to all the contestants was “music”. I won first place.
It’s also noteworthy that my last girlfriend was a sound reiki master.
Fade to Silence
OK, so I have another success as well. I co-produced the song, “Let’s love the world together…” which is available on iTunes. Check it out.
Let’s love the world together…
[)anish /|hmed, blind visionary