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Justin Frix
Professor Campbell
UWRT (TR 11:00)
11 September 2015
Learning Music
I remember a time when things were simpler. It was my last year in elementary
school and I was excelling. I was in the smart kid class that occurred twice a week. We would
generally do things like puzzles and logic problems. Although I wasnt the cool kid in class at
the time, I didn't really care because I was ten. My parents were also still together at the time. My
father, Glen, was working on Duke Energys cyber security while my mother, Susan, was a stayat-home mother. My father was always the stricter parent, I assume because of the stress that he
underwent at work, and my mother was very laid back. We lived on Lake Norman in the house
that I grew up in until I was about 14. Rain or shine, the lake was always beautiful. The raindrops
allowed the lake to shimmer and move in a way that clarified mother natures incomparable
beauty, while the sun carefully outlined each wave, serving as a constant. They were pure
opposites. Jennifer, my sister, was two years older than me. She was your typical young girl,
interested in things like barbie and the color pink. Jennifer never failed to outshine me. Later on,
when she was in middle school, she carefully scheduled all of her classes for high school up to
senior year. Learning the material for the classes before they actually started allowed her to
become the valedictorian with a 5.08 gpa. She was awarded the Parks scholarship and a lifetime
of gratitude from my parents. I was more interested in things like video games, legos, and your
other typical young dude stuff. Life was just much easier.

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I walked into my navy blue room and turned my beloved Playstation on. It was a
beautiful day outside, so I decided to open my windows and let the sun shine in. My young brain
thought, What better way to celebrate a wonderful day than to stay inside and play a little
Guitar Hero? Guitar Hero was one of my favorite games. I loved playing all of the riffs and
solos on the little plastic guitar that came with it. I was playing one of my favorite solos, the one
that featured Slash on the screen. He appeared in his famed top hat and black colored outfit that
would be totally unacceptable to wear in this time period, shredding like no other animation
could. I didn't know who he was at the time, or that he would later become my idol. My parents
walked in the room. I want a real guitar, I said. To my surprise, they very easily responded
with Okay. I didn't think much of this. I didn't realize that those were the words that would
change my life, so I continued to play Guitar Hero. All I really had to do now was find a guitar
cheap enough for a beginner. Where is the best place I could find a Guitar? Guitar Center.
Walking into Guitar Center was like walking into a cathedral. Guitars lined the walls
from top to bottom, amps were stacked everywhere, and the guitars that were being played
reverberated throughout the whole room. It was fascinating to me. After a long time searching, I
finally found a budget guitar that would work. In the corner of the huge room was a brown
sunburst Squire strat in a box. Hey dad! look at this one!, I called. My parents contemplated
for a short moment before agreeing that they would buy me it. This would be the guitar that I
would take home. It was only about 150$ and included an amp, so it was ideal for a young
beginner like me. I was incredibly happy with my new guitar.
As soon as I got home that day, I walked into my parents room, plugged the small starter
amp into the wall, and started messing around with the guitar. At first, all I did was run my finger
along the strings, semitone by semitone, fret by fret, wondering how Slash shredded so hard in

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the Guitar Hero game. It was my first attempt at playing a guitar, so I had no idea how to play
with any sort of speed or accuracy, nor did I know any scales, chords, or intervals. It took me a
lot of time to get the hang of. Finger blisters and a sore hand were always in the way of my
practice time. That was okay though, because it is just what happens with beginners. After years
and years of practicing, I was finally able to play the solos and riffs of my favorite songs. After
more years and years, I began to realize that I was getting tired of playing guitar, so I started to
take a lot more breaks. These breaks became longer and longer every time they happened. My
interest was slowly dying out, and time would continue to kill my passions.
During one of the breaks that I took, I decided to look for something else in the world of
music. I was tired of playing guitar and just wanted something new. I had heard things about one
digital audio workstation in particular, FL Studio. I no longer use FL, but it was a giant help in
learning the ins and outs of working with and learning other digital audio workstations.
I was sitting on my leather recliner with my old Acer laptop open when I decided to try
and make a song on FL. This didnt work out so well, as I didn't really know the DAW and all I
did was click in drum hits into the step sequencer. I had no clue what I was doing. The various
menus, screens, and terminology infinitely confused me. I had no idea how much power and
potential the mainstream DAWS possessed.
I began to take computer music very seriously a few years ago. I figured that moulding
my life around music was a good idea at the time. I began to read about everything I possibly
could involving music. My phone was littered with bookmarks and shortcuts to music websites,
articles, and everything of the sort. A lot of it was about more technical things like mixing and
music theory. I used to read everyday in school and put assignments off until the last minute just
so I could read. I also had 45 minute breaks in between classes that I would use to go sit and read

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about music. Sometimes, I would tell my friends I couldn't hang out with them just so that I
could read. The reading was an extraordinary lesson in persistence and I feel like it changed me
for the better.
Song after song, I improved. But, making music is all about failure. You make something,
enjoy it, and then realize that you hate it. The fact that you had to listen to the chorus at least 100
times to mix the shaker causes you to hate the chorus. The fact that you had to listen to the intro
100 times to get the right sound out of a synth makes you hate the intro. Listening to the same
song 500 times back to back to arrange it will slowly kill you. I learned this the hard way, along
with everyone else who knows the feeling. I practically sacrificed my social life so that I could
grow musically. This was my biggest mistake. I was able to balance a bass synth with a kick
drum but I wasn't able to balance my life. I learned that it is really all about hard work. There is
no way around it. While I feel I have made a ridiculous amount of progress, the process is too
tedious and exhausting to manage now that I am in college. They always say, There are no
secrets to making music My journey through music has consistently proved this to me. There
aren't any secrets.