Expanding Musical Ability and Playing a Benefits Concert

Description:

For my STEP project, I decided to supplement my knowledge of guitar by purchasing an electric guitar and accessories.  I already had some understanding of guitar after playing acoustic for a while, but I wanted to take my overall skill set to the next level.  The experience culminated in a benefits concert I played with my band on November 6, 2015.

The equipment I bought with the STEP grant.

The guitar, amplifier, case, pedal, and other accessories I acquired with the STEP grant.

 

Understanding:

 

In all honesty, going into my STEP project, I did not expect to learn as much as I did about myself or about guitar.  I thought playing electric guitar would be a lot like acoustic guitar, and that strumming and plucking some chords was all I would need to do.  I thought the equipment did not matter as much as the musician.  In reality, electric guitar opens up a new world of musical possibilities.  My constricted view of the world of music has greatly expanded, and it feels like there are limitless opportunities for creativity.

I also did not anticipate how much I truly would enjoy playing an electric guitar.  It’s an odd feeling to start practicing some scales or chords, then looking up and realizing an hour has passed.  Participating in the STEP project has made me realize that there truly is nothing I like better than just playing music.

 Transformation:

 

It only took a couple times playing the new Strat to realize just what was possible once you have the right tools.  Each time I practice is like a dream come true, and each of those times contributes a little more to the experience and my transformation as a person.  I focus mainly on guitar theory when I practice, and have supplemented my practice with reading on the subject.  I bought a guitar theory book to compliment the STEP project and have been studying it and practicing the principles it teaches.  Reading up on the theory has both expanded my abilities and made me more confident, which has greatly contributed to my transformation.

Some of the music theory and guitar theory material I studied during my STEP experience.

Some of the music theory and guitar theory material I studied during my STEP experience.

Something else that has really helped lead to my transformation is practicing with my band.  Before the project, I had been using an acoustic guitar with my band.  We primarily play both classic and alternative rock music, for which the acoustic guitar is ill-suited.  The acoustic was limited and overpowered by the other instruments, and did not contribute to the sound we wanted.  The Stratocaster changed all of that.  With the new equipment, I’m no longer just a background sound in the band.  The versatility of the Strat, amplifier, and pedal allow me to gel with the other sounds any way I want, which has given the band the sound we had hoped for.  Each time we practice, we get a little better and a little more comfortable with each other, and I personally enjoy it more.  Each practice has made me realize just how much my bandmates and band matter to me, and how big a part of my life it has become.  Having the right equipment has definitely helped me reach that conclusion.

The entire experience more or less culminated in a benefit concert that we played at the Ohio Union on November 6th.  The lineup consisted of three bands, us being in the middle time slot.  The ticket sales from the concert went toward aiding the fight against the global water crisis, thanks to the Splash: Sustenance organization.  This was the first time I had played a show with the new equipment, and setting up on stage with the other bands was surreal.  Watching the other acts perform was both rewarding and educational, but playing in front of so many people with professional-grade equipment for the first time was exhilarating and a fantastic confidence boost.  We played a set that lasted just over an hour, with a mix of original music and covers.  It was a wonderful experience being able to do what I love in order to benefit a great cause, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

My band, The Week Knights, playing at the Splash: Sustenance benefit concert on November 6th.

My band, The Week Knights, playing at the Splash: Sustenance benefit concert on November 6th.

 

Significance:

 

The STEP project has made a significant impact on my life.  To start, having the right musical equipment gives me a constructive, creative hobby which pairs nicely with school.  There are few things better than taking a break from class or homework and just jamming for a little while.  It clears the mind, gets creative juices flowing, and is a fantastic way to de-stress.  Playing guitar is going to be a life-long hobby for me, without a doubt.  And I now have a guitar that I plan on keeping and playing for my whole life.

Personally and professionally, I would love to pursue a career in music.  Having a professional-quality guitar like the Stratocaster is important if I’m going to play professionally.  As of right now, being a full-time musician is a stretch, and I still want to get a degree in mechanical engineering.  However, regardless of what happens, I have found a hobby that I am truly passionate about.  Thanks to STEP, I have been able to acquire the necessary tools to pursue that passion.

A group picture of my band after the Splash: Sustenance concert at the Ohio Union.

A group picture of my band, The Week Knights, after the Splash: Sustenance concert at the Ohio Union.

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