Music’s Lesson About Stuttering and Life, an article written by Josh Drzewicki
For more than half my life, I’ve spent countless hours sitting in practice rooms, bedrooms, bathrooms, storage spaces, football fields, and even by lakes with a tuba mouthpiece, guitar, or some kind of percussion instrument in my hands. From trumpet in my preteen years, to tuba for ten years (and different guitars in between).
This wasn’t only about learning how to make sense of the sounds. I also learned countless life lessons that have pushed me forward.
It didn’t matter where I was, there were always three things in my mind as I sat, practicing. I could be practicing for a high school concert, a solo for a competition, or even in front of the millions of eyes tuning into the Rose Bowl activities. It could even be practicing the guitar to impress a girl (which I also learned isn’t worth the time).
There were always three things in my mind…
1. The Key to Anything is Confidence
When you’re sitting on a stage with the lights intense blaring at you, it’s too late to practice. The conductor bobs their wand from the ready position to count a beat before the piece kicks off is and the horse takes off from the gates. At this point, the only thing left is to take the reigns and hold on for dear life.
In music, the bass instruments have to create a basis for the trumpets and flutes to play over. Without it, the music sounds empty. As a tuba player, I was always one of the few bass sounds in the band, so I had to put out more sound than many of my counterparts.
There’s no time to play timid, it’s all about playing notes confidently. In marching band, it’s all about turning, stepping, and stopping at the right time.
I’ve made countless mistakes, but a mistake is forgivable. What’s not forgivable? Being too scared to make a mistake.
When it comes to stuttering, it’s very much the same. While I definitely don’t have a pretty voice, I have confidence when I talk. There is a drive and a purpose. Even if words are coming out like a CD that’s found its way under a car.
When it comes to life, sitting inside and hiding away from the world is a possible option. It doesn’t accomplish anything. Humanity doesn’t move forward when you sit at home all day and play League of Legends.
For many, especially many who stutter, talking to others is hard. Finding confidence is even harder. However, in order to move forward in life and experience all the beautiful things life has to offer, putting the face of confidence on is the best way.
Mistakes can be forgiven, but not trying isn’t an option.
2. Talent is irrelevant in most cases, hard work prevails
When it comes to who sits on stage for a concert or on the field for a marching band performance, it never comes down to has the most talent.
Without practice, Mozart never would have hit the heights that he did. Without practice, Michael Jordan might be the tallest car salesman, rather than the best basketball player who ever lived. The people sitting next to me on stage were always the ones who practiced.
If you’re unaware, a scale is a series of eight notes that are related in the same key. When I was in the Spartan Marching Band, my music major friends would spend hours on one scale – hours on just eight notes. To me, it was unbelievable. Yet that’s what it takes to be the best.
The people I performed with, in the marching band, were always better than me talent wise, however I was the only non-music major in my class who played every performance for four years. I practiced countless hours to get things just right.
When it comes to life, it’s never about the most talented.
The CEO at the company wasn’t born a CEO, they had to spend countless hours working hard. They put in 80 hour weeks just to get ahead.
People who are movie stars aren’t naturally incredible at acting. They are very devoted to transforming themselves for one movie over and over again.
Heck, I could be a public speaker if I wanted, despite my stutter. It would just take countless hours of writing speeches and giving speeches. It doesn’t matter what it is, the vast majority of people can do it. It just takes measured practice.
3. A melody doesn’t have to be beautiful
Listen to this…
That’s the final movement from Le Sacre du Printemps, otherwise known as the Sacrificial dance from The Rite of Spring. In this movement of the song, the chosen one (from previous movements) is forced to dance herself to death.
The piece premiered in Paris with a companion ballet. The Parisian crowd at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées literally rioted over the piece and accompanying ballet, because of its implications. The primal aggression and seemingly random rhythms create a sense of distress and mania.
This part is more personally related to my stutter than the world at large. Even in the ugly, there is still beauty to be found. My voice is my music, and without it, I’m just a lost and hopeless soul. That’s why I play it every chance I get. Anyone who wants to talk, I treat them with a rhythmic mess of stutters, but to me, it’s beautiful.
With confidence, it’s a suitable way to transmit my feelings. Even when I tense up and know a wooden block is about to make me look like a fool, I accept the booming timpani or bass drum that my heart creates and just push through.
Stuttering isn’t easy, but without it I might not be where I am today. I wouldn’t have been able to fight through the harder moments in life if I hadn’t faced adversity everyday. In fact, I’ve come out better because of it.
Josh Drzewicki writes about various topics, including recovery.
In his free time, he enjoys jamming on the tuba and bass guitar, going for walks through Metro Detroit, and playing video games.