Wednesday, June 2, 2010

With the Band

Today, Scott Goldstein tells us why it might be a good idea to start a band (sexy Costa Rican optional).

A good friend of my brother’s was playing at a jazz club in D.C. and my family asked me if I wanted to come. I had finished my homework early, and was just going to flip around the channels at home killing some time, so I decided I’d come along. The set started with an exhilarating take on a jazz classic, I believe it was one of Ellington’s. After about 40 minutes, the friend, and some of his band members came off the stage for a quick break, and to say hello to their friends who had shown up. As they stepped away from the instruments, they were treated like heroes to a raucous applause. They had wide smiles, and looked so damn cool on-stage. I was hooked.

The next day I went into school, and asked two of my friends, a sexy Costa Rican who solos like Hendrix whom I call “Kader,” and my best friend, an Israeli named Ofer who has played piano for close to 11 years, if they wanted to jam sometime. Both enthusiastically said yes.

Fast forward three months. We’re jamming in our school’s music room, playing one of the four songs we’ve written all by ourselves. We’re planning to record in a few weeks, right after finals. But we’re not thinking about school or life or finals. Because right now, Kader’s just developed a guitar riff as gorgeous as Angelina Jolie, and Ofer’s doing something magical with it, soloing like a wizard. And I scream “Oh damn that sounds good!” Ofer smiles modestly. Kader’s tapping his foot, trying to look like he’s concentrating, but eventually a smile creeps onto his face too. And then Ofer finishes his solo and we seamlessly transition back towards the song. Later on, we try another song, and at the culmination I stop. Something in my brains telling me to do something, and without thinking about, I stop my drum beat, and bang once on the bass drum. Then again, then again, then louder and louder and louder, and some cymbals start crashing all of a sudden, without me even thinking about it. We’re still playing, and then we go back into the chorus, and finish. The canvas of silence greets us, an opportunity for another song, another riff, another drum beat.

Now, playing music is a communal experience. After a few practices, Kader, Ofer, and I developed something. Some chemistry. You see, when one of us wanted to solo, he didn’t need to say anything. We’d look at each other, and suddenly it’d run smoothly as if our minds were linked. We finished each other’s sentences, fed off one another. It is how I imagine a marriage to be…well the 50% that don’t end in divorce! And when you really do write something nice, write something beautiful, it doesn’t just sound good. It feels good. You tap your foot, nod your head, and think proudly that what you’ve done, what you’ve made, is amazing. And even if you don’t get a great moment of originality, it’s still a whole helluva lot of fun jamming with friends. Banging the snare drums, bashing the cymbals, and even if it doesn’t sound good (no-one does all the time) you still get out some bad energy by pretending you’re the drummer of the The Who going around the drums at the speed of light, drum sticks blurred. Or soloing like Hendrix, and throwing in a pelvic thrust once in a while just for the heck of it.

Music, whether you’re good or not, a beginner like I am, or been playing for 11 years, is something special! Music, whether in the basement, or garage, or a music room at school, whether still in grade school, or middle aged like that scene from I Love You Man, is an experience worth having. There isn’t any age limit to jamming, heck, Dave Brubeck’s ten years older than Moses himself, and he’s still playing, still delighting audiences in clubs across the country! So if you ever played an instrument, or know any friends or co-workers who play, then call them up and get together. And play so loud that your apartment neighbors shout at you to shut the hell up. And then play louder. Because I guarantee, I promise, that you will have an absolute blast. Sure music is great to listen to, but playing it takes it to a whole new dimension. And I promise you’ll be glad you did.


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