Recap of My Experience at the Music Therapy Program @ Jazz STL

One of the coolest parts about being a musician I've found is all of the little ins and outs opportunities I receive as a musician to play music in non traditional settings. A lot of young musicians or music fans may have this preconceived notion that "making it" is all about playing on big stages to packed houses every night. I myself maybe even thought that as a youngster. However as I've grown in my music practice and idea of what it means to "make it". I've come to realize the abundance of opportunity and fulfillment that exists all around a community to play music as a service to others that perpetuates and stabilizes a full time career in the arts. That is "making it (music)" to me! Just make music!

These gigs are some of the most fun that you can have. For example, I recently got the opportunity to accompany a super cool music therapy program for kids called "Beat NF" hosted by Jazz St. Louis. Playing for kids is seriously the best. They are as equally fun to entertain as they are entertaining. Plus, they give you the rock star treatment with their generous applauding, hollering when prompted and enthusiasm to dance! What more could a musician ask for? Not to mention, the feeling of nostalgia remembering all of the times as a youngster I was exposed to musicians playing for special events that inspired me to be in the position I am in to give back to the next generation. It is truly a humbling and exciting feeling.

During the 5 week program I got to witness music therapists and physical therapists work with kids diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis on motor skills while incorporating lessons about famous jazz musicians, musical instruments, rhythm and more! Each week we added a new jazz song that spotlighted a different instrument and supplied the kids with interactive ways to participate in the music being created by professional musicians in the community. I had a blast watching the kids learn and participate in the activities the programed included.

What was also cool about this experience is, Jamie, the leader of the class, used to play in a band called The X (though at different times as me), led by my late great friend/mentor Roger Morse! This was one of the first bands I regularly played in when I moved to STL and Roger was one of the biggest influences on my life I've ever known. To have that connection right away made the program smooth sailing! It is truly amazing how many people Roger touched in his too short time here and how much of an impact he made on my life in the two short years I knew him. Reminds me that everything is connected and to cherish every moment!

Jazz music has been such a therapeutic outlet for myself through learning to listen intensively, exercise brain muscles to acquire knowledge, and ultimately express myself creatively through improvisation. I love that music is so malleable. On all levels it finds you where you are with open arms to welcome you to the everlasting party that has and always will be an evolutionary and participatory process. Whether you get bit by the music bug and pursue it as a career, use it as a creative outlet or stress relieving hobby or just enjoy listening, it has your back!

Music has the power to heal, motivate, inspire, evoke emotion, change the environment of a room and most importantly connect us all through common frequencies known as sound. It's a difficult thing to describe, as music or sound is intangible but I am truly inspired every time I get the call to play music for others in all types of settings. It's especially gratifying when I get to mix helping others, passing on knowledge and playing music I truly love all together!

Thanks to Jazz STL for having me for this amazing opportunity. The creation of this unique program is an unprecedented service to our community and I am inspired by the dynamite merging of creativity and therapeutic service in one. It is truly a blessing to be a part of it!

As a community, let's all look for ways to create opportunities to pass on the power of music while creating fun jobs for one another! Win-Win's are the best!

 

 Kwanae Johnson (Sax) and Danny Campbell (Trumpet)

Kwanae Johnson (Sax) and Danny Campbell (Trumpet)

 John Lum (Drums) and Andy Hainz (UPRIGHT Bass)

John Lum (Drums) and Andy Hainz (UPRIGHT Bass)

 Leader of the pack, Jaime Wilhite and me!

Leader of the pack, Jaime Wilhite and me!

Ryan Marquez