Through The Lens is our weekly series where we highlight current students and faculty, capture them on campus and ask them about their inspirations, advice and beyond.

Describe the moment/s when you knew that you wanted to study music further.

That moment…I never necessarily had THAT moment until not too long ago. I started music at the age of 14 when I started High school. That was only because I accidentally got put into a Band ensemble/Marching band class. I don’t know why the counselors messed up my schedule, but I stuck to it. I didn’t think much of it, even during the span of high school. It wasn’t until my senior year at our Annual Banquet when it was time for the conductor’s choice award, that she announced me as her choice. I didn’t know ANYTHING about music my freshman year! Prior to her announcement, she mentioned how much she’s seen improvement. I was a freshman who couldn’t read “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” to a senior who could read trombone solos and bass guitar etudes pretty well. To see how much I’ve improved in the span of 4 short years still blows my mind. That night during the banquet was the moment I wanted to study music further. It was a decision that I’m glad I put myself in because of how much I pushed myself.

If you could only play one piece of music for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I took Motown Bass a couple of quarters back when I first started MI. It dragged me into the era where the Funk Brothers were practically the instrumentalists behind every hit on the radio. Obviously because I’m a bassist I’d listen to the instrumentalist that had me pulling out my hair from reading his bass-lines out of a book and that was James Jamerson. He’s an inspiration. His work is unlike any other bassists I had known of. What’s going On (An album released by Marvin Gaye one of my personal favorites. The Track “What’s Going On” is what made James Jamerson’s lines mesmerized me and a couple of other students. The whole album puts me in a trance, all 9 tracks are so great! “What’s Going On” would be that piece I’d play for the rest of my life if I can only choose one. I’ll play along with it until I can no longer play. James Jameson’s tone is so warm, so vibrant in that song. The composition of that tune just proves how much a genius Marvin Gaye and the Funk Brothers were during that time.

What the most important lesson you’ve learned at MI so far? What has surprised you the most about MI?

Back then, every note I’d play, I judge. So for instance, If a note wasn’t exactly as loud as it should be or if it was a wrong note in general, I’d kick myself for hours for the littlest mistakes made. It’s insane thinking how I would hold myself back from a performance just for me to still mess up. The moment one of my instructors said that I would never have a perfect performance, I played better, I was more comfortable, and playing my bass was no longer stressful. It’s was an important lesson for me because I started to be in the moment, I was no longer fearing a little error. I was enjoying the moment. Other’s were enjoying my enjoyment!  Whether it be through band communication, or from spectators.

3 1/2 The Library, it still blows my mind even after being here at MI for so long.

We have an extensive amount of stuff available here besides books.  Not only that but these computers have applications that musicians use on a day to day basis. If I need a guitar, a snare, a bass, or a midi keyboard at a moments glance, I know where to go. I can’t think of another library that does that! Dvd’s and CD aren’t as popular as they once were thanks to streaming devices, but it’s still nice to have the collection. There’s pedals, an Ableton push controller, cables, headphones and microphone kits. I get surprised even now with what we still receive from donations whenever I work there. It’s amazing! (And no, Julie Bill didn’t force me to write this.)

What is your favorite music memory? 

I  was given an opportunity to travel to Vienna, Austria for two weeks since I was an International Music award recipient awarded by The Zawinul Foundation. The best memories from that trip was with Andy (my bass instructor from Gumpoldskirchen and all the staff from the school that showed me around Vienna. If I had to choose just one though, was when Andy handed me one of his Bass guitars and told me I can keep it. At first, I didn’t think much of it, It was an American Fretless Jazz Bass. I’ve never played fretless at all up until that point, nor did I ever think I want to. Looking back now, he gave me a bass that I constantly use. He didn’t have to. He didn’t have to consider giving me anything but because of how much he believed in me, he did. That itself, is an amazing feeling.  At any moment when I lose inspiration, I look at that bass and it brings back the motivation I need to continue.

Where do you find  the inspiration to pick up your instrument /practice everyday?

Like I said in the previous answer, the fact that I was given a bass because of how much Andy believed in me is inspiring. I think what’s driving my inspiration comes from the support I was given early on and even now. My band directors back in high school believed in me, many of my instructors here believe in me, my family believes in me. I guess the support I’m given is inspiring enough to keep on going. If I didn’t have said inspiration, I don’t know where I’d be.