I was 12 when I heard my first truly acoustic song. I was at a summer camp and a girl named Ruby played a song called “Our Town.” It was soft and slow with a melody that rose and dropped with purpose. It was sad but uplifting and by the time it was over I wanted to hear it again and again and again. Before I had entered the depths of middle school I had always listened to what my friends listened to; the majority of it consisting of dried out dehydrating tunes that all had the exact same electric beat and head-pounding base. It was when I heard “Our Town” that a song had truly touched something other than my ears and I felt an immediate connection to the slow ballad.
I was 13 when I strummed my first guitar. Looking back on the instrument, it was a timid cheap nylon stringed and plastic tuning headed creature. It’s voice was practically silent, almost non existent if I didn’t strum it hard enough, but I loved it. Just one strum of a chord felt fulfilling enough to make me smile. The first song I tried to play was “Our Town,” but my fingers were still new to the strings and my muscles hadn’t yet learned to play correctly. I fumbled along blindly through the song not knowing how to match the original rhythm of the tune or how to switch between the chords effortlessly enough to make it sound any good. I was immediately disappointed by my lack of talent, so I looked for new, easier songs to play. That’s when I started adding to my library of songs. I began listening to the Beatles and Van Morrison, Iris Dement and Orla Gartland, Ed Sheeran and Dodie Clark and so many others. It was then I had realized how long I had lived my life without fulfilling music. The kind of music that had intention and expression. I was flabbergasted by how I had missed out on so much; 11 years of nothing but pop beats and meaningless words.
Today I can’t imagine a life without music. I’m always listening to something of value, whether it’s a heartbreaking slow song or zesty upbeat tune, my headphones are always around my neck. Music helps to motivate me when I’m studying. It helps when I’m down and need a good smile or even when I’m trying to fall asleep. It’s even helped me make new friends and learn new things. It's a universal language that holds many different cultures and I’m so proud to be part of it. Music has always brought out the best in me and as I’m entering my Senior year of high school I have come to learn and appreciate guitar, piano and cello. I hope to continue my music in the future simply because it brings me the unfaltering feeling of contentment, fulfillment and joy. And as I have come to believe, life is always better with a good soundtrack.