This isn't about games. This is about childhood, growing up, and a changing relationship with hobbies. It probably applies to a lot of things, but for me, this is about Music.


I grew up in an intensely musical household. Both my parents have masters degrees in music. My mother was an elementary school music teacher, and she and my father wrote musicals for her 5th graders to perform each year, which they are now starting to publish. My father used to be a music engraver, before computers were really a thing for that. They were also intensely involved in church music, my mom playing the organ, and my dad directing the choir. My dad can name any piece that comes on 98.7 FM Chicago with staggering accuracy. We all have a song for anything.

So, it should come as no surprise that I am also a musical person. I started piano lessons when I was 5, and I started playing the Trumpet in 4th grade. I was a pretty good, holding down first chair in band, jazz band, all that stuff, for years. I was in choir my junior and senior years of high school too, when I could fit it in. I was in church choir for years too, played in the church ensemble, and, in general, did all the music.

When the time came to go to college, I started as a Music Education major, and dropped down to just Music with a minor in Jazz Studies after I had to teach 5-year-olds right before Christmas break. That got a hard nope from me. But a year later, burned out and dreading going back to school, I dropped out, went into IT, and that's where I've been for a decade or so.

Now, over 10 years after I fled school with the conviction that I just didn't find playing music fun, I've started to get back into it. I'm learning guitar. I have a weird desire to find a group of people to sing sea shanties with. So what happened?

I think that to a certain extent, music wasn't really something allowed to be fun. Or at least, it wasn't something that I allowed myself to have fun with.

I remember that when I was practicing the piano as a kid, I would be told to "stop playing around and practice." Which I totally get. My parents were paying for lessons, and if I wasn't prepared for them, that was pretty much a waste of money. We weren't rich people, and the teacher was a family friend, so if I wasn't prepared for the lessons, it's sort of being rude by proxy. But to an extent, what this ended up meaning to me was that practice was practice, and there was no room for just messing around.

This got reinforced during all the ensembles I was in. If you're in a band with 50+ people, and you're fucking around, you are wasting EVERYONE'S time. If you're talking or laughing during choir rehearsal, that's time stolen from the limited time the group has to practice together.

What I ended up taking away from all of this was that any time you are playing music with other people, it's zero-in focus-up time. No messing around, no off-topic anything. Furthermore, because I was in every music group in existence, music was never relaxing or recreational. It was always work.

I think that's why it could never be fun.


Now, I'm in my 30's, and I hit my mid-life crisis early, so I bought a Telecaster, and resolved to learn to play it. I'd always meant to learn guitar, and never did. Now, I'm a goddamn adult, I can pay for my own lessons and learn. And what I found was that learning to play the stuff I wanted to learn was FUN.

Now, it's frustrating as shit sometimes. I know two instruments pretty solidly, so when I know the notes I want to make happen, but my fingers don't know how to play them, that's so mindblowingly frustrating it can make me want to yeet the guitar across the room.

Something unexpected that happened, though, was that a buddy of mine finally had the chance to just play with me, and I couldn't believe how FUN it was. Like, he just came over, and we messed around with the piano and guitar, and learned a song that I liked, and just PLAYED. Hours just sorta disappeared.

I'm sorta upset I didn't figure this shit out sooner.


It's important to note that I don't blame anyone for this. It's just a mentality I ended up learning that prevented me from learning that while you do need to practice to improve, you can also JUST PLAY, and experiment, and make mistakes, and mess around, and get together with friends, and do all that stuff together.

I've been listening to a lot of DIY emo bands lately. Bands that just decided to play together, and decided to do it for other people, regardless of how many, or where. I think some of that is bleeding over to me.

I like it.

Anyway, listen to awakebutstillinbed.