Lessons learned in music

SUNDRY STROKES - The Philippine Star

The following essay is by Joseph R. Atilano, an authority on popular music.

Over the years I have been listening to music, collecting records and attending various gigs and concerts, I have learned a lot. I have gained so much knowledge immersing myself in the local scene. I have had conversations with numerous local musicians from all walks of life and stature – all these, because I have been passionate about music since I was seven years old. In essence, it has been a twenty year “love affair” I have had with anything to do with music. It has led me to chance encounters with local rock heroes growing up and, most importantly, it has molded me into the person I am – for the better. Throughout this journey, I have gained wisdom and I have been taught valuable lessons in music. Because every person has his own principles and rules that he lives by, I believe there are some principles he holds in common with everyone else. I would like to share the three principles that I go by and strictly follow, with regard to music.

1. Stand your ground. – Knowing the kind of music you like will help you from being forced or pressured into liking something else just because everybody is into it. If you don’t feel the music, then there is a logical reason behind that. You’ve got to trust your gut feel and sometimes going against the current trend is good; it will teach you to search for new and relatively undiscovered music out there. Then, more often than not, that can be the next trend in return. It can be applied to a wide spectrum of music. A perfect example of this which I can relay to you, the readers, is album searching. Don’t be swept into what are in the top 20 or the best sellers of the month, but go with what you truly like. I remember a couple of years ago, when I got news that one of the local bands that I had been following for some time had finally released their self-produced album and would have its release in select store outlets. It was something I was looking forward to buying. I wanted to get it immediately before it ran out of stock. To find which record store carried it was a challenge and it was doubly challenging dealing with the record store staff who seemed to be more interested singing the karaoke or chatting with each other than attending to the needs and questions of the customers. Despite that, I was able to finally find it on my own. It was well worth it and it taught me the rewards of just sticking with the music I like.

2. Learn an instrument or two. – How can you truly appreciate music, enjoy watching a band or even write about music, if you can’t even read notes, if you don’t know how to play a single instrument? To develop a deeper appreciation and have a fuller understanding of music, knowing how to play an instrument is a must and a necessity. It will not only benefit you in the long run, it will also open your mind to the wonders of music. Whether you idolized a certain guitarist growing up or wished you could just emulate how he played the guitar, these things can’t be accomplished by playing “guitar hero” or pretending to do a riff with “air guitar”. Learn the real thing and it will be more rewarding in the end. From there, you can learn by ear and that is only if your senses are keenly attuned and sharp. You can also learn another instrument after that. But for beginners, stick with one instrument first. Learn its history and purchase a good instrument from a reputable store. Do your research and always ask around. Don’t be ripped off into buying a cheap fender knock off. Whether you want to learn an instrument because you want to form a band or you just want to practice at home, it is an important rule to go by for any music critic, aficionado or fan.

3. Share your music. – This applies to both musicians and non-musicians. Sharing music can mean a number of things. The first one is by simply letting others hear the music you play, a song you have composed, or a new song that you have never heard before. While I understand there is satisfaction to having a collection of songs that isn’t played yet on the radio or a song that is so good but nobody has heard of, there is greater joy for me to see the reactions of people listening to music they have never heard before or even music they haven’t heard in a long time. Plus, you can also help them into discovering new music and in return, they can do the same for others. This is, for everyone, to be proactive in generating and encouraging interest in music. I think all of us can recollect, or at the least remember, a few occasions of hearing a song on the radio being played which immediately grabbed our attention, and we wished we could buy the album or at least get the name of the artist. I can’t count the times I have heard a song and I wasn’t sure who the artist was, but I knew I had to have the cd. The curiosity to find new music, to search for new artists and to hear music we will truly enjoy is natural. Without this, we would just be content with whatever is played on the radio, shown on music channels and those available in record stores. There is so much good music out there and you can always expect and have that when exploring the music landscape!









  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with