“We’re on each other’s team.” These words cut through the noise of a typical day in Los Angeles traffic, traveling from student to student, rehearsal to gig, apartment to the grocery store and back again. With a flare for the dramatic, Lorde’s smash hit “TEAM” resonates with me. Over the last two months many SoundLife Music Academy students prepared for a concert. They memorized songs, structures, and instrumental parts. They practiced passages that at one time may have seemed impossible. They learned melodies and memorized lyrics. After weeks of preparing, like most daunting tasks, the time came when they played from a place of confidence, poise, and certainty. This moment is by far my favorite to experience. Sometimes it does not occur until they are on stage, and for those who don’t find discipline to practice or the motivation to excel, it may not happen. Lorde’s song reminds me that all of these students spread out over this vast city are all on each other’s team. Though many of them never meet, they all have music in common. They share language and experience. In the context of a concert they are motivating, inspiring, challenging, and sharing with one another. They are a TEAM.
Part of putting on a concert for SoundLife Music Academy is grouping students together to perform in bands. Long before they ever enter the rehearsal room they are given individual parts, and we perfect those parts out of context. We imagine that there is a band and we prepare accordingly. Then, just before the concert, we put together a rehearsal. In some cases the students are family or friends, but in other cases the students have never met one another. They walk in and suddenly they are in a band. Their parts will now fit into the wider puzzle that is a song, and they get to feel that power of individuals creating music together as one. The students do not know anything about one another. They only know the language, the goal, and what is necessary to achieve the goal. For the students, who suddenly are elevated to musicians, a performance with a band is much like a sport. Win as a team, lose as a team. When the band takes the stage and performs for their parents and peers, it’s game on; and when they reach the end and know they have each done their job at the highest level capable, it is a team win. Check out what "Music For All" says about the importance of this process.
Studying an instrument has many benefits beyond the physical aspect of playing an instrument. Check out this scientific study. Learning any instrument increases the capacity of your memory, refines your time management and organizational skills, teaches perseverance, enhances your coordination, increases your responsibility, sharpens your concentration, fosters self-expression, relieves stress, creates a sense of achievement, promotes social skills, instills discipline, and most importantly, it promotes happiness in your life and the life of those around you. Performance is the glue that solidifies all of these benefits, bringing them to the surface for all to see. Team skills become most evident and are a very important aspect of being successful in life outside of music. Playing an instrument requires you to work with others to make music. In band or orchestra settings you must learn how to cooperate with the people around you. In order for a group to make beautiful music, each player and section must learn how to listen to each other. I often will tell students, “I’m on your team.” Meaning I want you to succeed. In music, we are truly all on each other’s team.
Chris Vazquez is the co-owner and director of SoundLife Music Academy, a Los Angeles based in-home music school offering private lessons on all instruments in the comfort and convenience of home. Mr. Vazquez has performed with Air Supply, Leona Lewis, Kenny Lattimore, Anthony Evans, JoJo, and many other notable artists.