September 28, 2015

The Power of Music Changes Lives

A little while ago, an image surfaced on Facebook which got a lot of responses, likes and shares. It wasn’t a photo of some amazing rare bizarre weird thing that went viral. Instead, it was a simple picture with just one sentence written on it which said: “I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for music”.image of music changed my life

I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for music

Why did so many people connect with that message? Every person has a story and those whose story includes music know the changes it brought into their lives. I grew up in a sleepy little village where musically speaking, not much happened. My teenage years were wasted on things which haven’t mattered to me in the last 30 years although they once were all I could think about … until the music came.

That all changed when I crossed path with a retired master tailor who was a self-taught musician. His love for music was huge and he loved to share that love. He inspired me to buy an instrument and amazingly, he taught me what he know for free. We used to jam in his tailor shop and he enjoyed playing just with me as much as performing on stage for the whole town. He was in his own world and anyone who know him agreed.

Looking back, I consider “Uncle Josef” my first music teacher. The trademark of every great music teacher is to awaken the spirit and he did. In just two years, he taught me enough about music that I could join a dance band and if my musical career stopped right there I too could say that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for music but, there was more to come.

Turning 18 in Austria meant joining the army and lucky for me, that meant the army band. I often wondered how all of this could happen so fast. Start music lessons at the age of 15, play with a dance band tow years later and now I am in one of the best provincial orchestras there is playing a new instrument which I only picked up a year before. Looking back, those were the easy years and we had plenty of fun. Little did I know that this is just the beginning of much more to come.

Starting my first (of two) youth orchestras

Uncle Josef often talked about how our little town used to have a brass band before the big war which changed Europe as we know it today. Unfortunately, some of the key members of the brass band didn’t make it back and ever since, there was a void which was mostly felt among the older generation. I still remember how his eyes lit up when I told him that we could start a brass band with most of the children in our town and so we did. That was an amazing experience. This summer, the same brass band I founded when I was in my early 20’s celebrated their 30th anniversary.
Life has it’s own ways and at the age of 24, I left Austria to start over in Canada. Pretty much from day one, my life focused on music and there was nothing I haven’t done. Toured, recorded, composed, taught, published, you name it.
While working in Edmonton as a music teacher, I begun a new brass band project which consisted of about two dozen children. There is no grater joy that to bring someone from 0 to 1, to be there and help with that first step.

Little Composers

My last project is bigger than everything I have done before. While teaching in Edmonton, I often wondered if music lessons cold somehow be squeezed inside a computer. That was 15 years ago and audio was much more complex than it is today. Technology has progressed at such a speed that we can finally take full advantage of everything music has to offer. And because of the internet, a whole new generation is getting ready to start a journey and begin their own little story. The more children get involved in music, the more the nations will connect and that is just the beginning.

I look forward to a time when the broken education system which squeezed kids through life realizes that music is just as important as math and therefore should not be subject to cuts by the bureaucrats which don’t know that music changes lives.

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