My Music(less) Journey

(Nick Schcolnik)– When I was eight I took piano lessons for about a month. I say about a month because, as I recall, I put up such a fuss that after only four lessons my parents gave up on me (the “but it’s good for you” logic didn’t work on me at that point). I didn’t like my teacher, and by proxy the piano, because she made me concentrate and required that I hit the correct keys with the correct fingers (overrated, as I saw it). I couldn’t fathom how anybody could possibly memorize the difference between all of those black and white keys and relay that memorization quickly enough to make nice sounds. More importantly, I find that hitting the right button on command with my pinkies is always a struggle (e.g. typing).

As a 3rd grader I was an exceptionally mediocre recorder player, and while my grade school mandated that all 3rd graders take recorders classes, my interest in learning to play music was negligible at best. I had a hard time concentrating and learning the various rules and techniques that playing an instrument required. Sitting still and practicing were about as unappealing a way to spend my time as I could possibly imagine. While I can still play a mean “Hot Cross Buns,” the end of 3rd grade marked the end of my musical journey.

Ten years later I, of course, regret not learning to play an instrument (two of my life goals are to learn to play piano and guitar). Somewhat surprisingly, though, I have maintained a strong interest in music all of my life (or perhaps better put, I have maintained a strong connection to music). As my taste in music continues to change, I grow increasingly curious in tracking the change. I find that the difference is remarkable because the type of music I listen to parallels the events in my life. If nothing else, I find that looking back on the different types of music to which I listened is a funny way of reconnecting with my past.


As a middle school student and in early high school, I was a big fan of rap and hip-hop. Grillz was my song of choice, and I knew just about every word of every Eminem song. I look back on these days with a little bit of embarrassment, but the truth is that I really, really liked my rap. At the time I was also an adamant basketball player. I played basketball six days a week, for multiple teams, and oftentimes spent upwards of four hours running sprints for angry coaches. In part, then, my attraction to hip-hop and rap mirrored the fast-paced life I was living: it helped get me going from one practice to the next and allowed me to maintain a certain intensity about myself. (Note: I recognize that hip-hop and rap are very different musical styles, but I listened to and enjoyed both.)

As I aged and slowly grew tired of my high school, exhausted from basketball, and generally in need of a means through which to sit back and relax, I began listening to what I’ll call folk music. Rather than needing a way to get up, I needed to relax. I became a fan of Death Cab for Cutie and Bright Eyes, and found myself consistently moving away from fast-paced music. Whenever my iTunes shuffled onto Superman, I quickly hit next. I even became a bit ashamed of my popular music loving past.

Clearly my taste in music is not profound. If I actually played piano I imagine I would appreciate more classical music and oldies, but I don’t. My musical taste is a distinct potpourri, and as I look back I find that I’m able to take meaning from all of the different stages of my musical taste. Some of it might be embarrassing, but just as what I do, say, or think is representative of who I am, I believe that my musical choices are also representative of who I am—at least for now.


Photo from: