A Life with Music

By Jose Sanchez - First-Person Experience

Picture by Stefani Davila

December 9, 2020 at 8:30 P.M. EST.  

To say that, more often than not, I find myself overwhelmed by my everyday responsibilities would be an understatement. As many can relate, a student’s life is not easy. Most of the time, I struggle to balance my classes, extracurricular activities, and personal affairs. It feels like I don’t have enough hours in a day. And yet, I move on with my academic endeavors.

However, everyone has their limit. So, when I feel burned out by college and work, I like to take a step back and listen to music. When I listen to my favorite songs, I can feel the hardships of life vanishing. Music invites me to reminisce about the pleasant, simple memories in my life — moments where I am surrounded by familiar faces laughing and sharing stories. At least for a few minutes, I’m able to escape reality within the comfort of music. 

Besides helping me relieve stress, music also pushes me forward. I can’t imagine a day where I study without music in the background. Some may prefer to listen to a slow song with relaxing tunes so they can concentrate better; personally, a slow song doesn’t help me focus. In this regard, I prefer to listen to a fast song with energetic drums. To illustrate, I recommend you listen to “Turbo Killer” by Carpenter Brut. It starts up fast with the melody of a synth and drums accompanied by an up-tempo snare. Following the bases of the electronic genre, “Turbo Killer” maintains high energy across the song, making sure that all instruments transmit a feeling of power. Every time I listen to this song, I have enough energy to solve my calculus homework, write a 600-word essay, and then go to the gym.

In contrast, after a long day filled with activities, I like to shift gears in my routine and listen to a slow-paced song. In that case, there is no better genre than Jazz. The unique riffs, cool tones, and complex jazz rhythms bring a natural relief to my mind and body. When I come home exhausted from college, I lie down on my couch, close my eyes and listen to “Blue in Green” by Miles Davis. As I enjoy the sweet melody of his saxophone, I let the piano guide me through the flow of the song, helping me relax after a difficult day.

Music is part of my daily life. Music has also helped me through the most challenging times in my life. I’m sure every one of us is no stranger to loss  —  nobody can live forever. One of the lowest points in my life was when my grandfather lost his battle against Parkinson's. I remember seeing him confined to a bed and unable to speak coherently. Since childhood, I have spent entire days with my grandfather. He told me stories about his life as a fisherman, and he guided me with his wisdom every time I lost my way. My grandfather was much more than family — he was my idol. So when I had to say my final goodbye, grief overwhelmed me. To this day, I can’t let go of my grandfather.

To my surprise, I discovered a song that brought light to my days again: “So Far Away” by the heavy metal band, Avenged Sevenfold. The song starts on a minor scale, giving a feeling of sadness with an acoustic guitar. The lyrics kick in, asking, “how do I live without the ones I love?” As it plays on, the guitar, drums, and bass guitar gain more energy. And yet, the song plays without one of the staples of heavy metal: an electric guitar. Before reaching its climax, the lyrics keep up the positive energy with, “Sleep tight, I'm not afraid / The ones that we love are here with me / Layaway a place for me because as soon as I'm done, I'll be on my way to live eternally!” Then the guitar shows up with a heartfelt, melodic solo. When I listen to this solo, I feel the passionate cries of the electric guitar. But I don’t feel sadness in the guitar’s sound — I feel joy and hope. Just as the song closes, the lyrics leave a message that echoes in my mind when I miss my grandfather, “I'll see you when he lets me / Your pain is gone, your hands untied.”

Thanks to “So Far Away,” I remember the good times I spent with my grandfather, instead of focusing on his departure. Every time I feel down, this song brings a smile to my face and reminds me that the best is yet to come. “So Far Away” is just one song of many that reminds me how powerful music can be. In every song from every genre, there is something unique for everyone. It just proves how magnificent and versatile music can be. That’s why a life without music would be pointless.

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Jose Sanchez

Jose Sanchez is a Computer Science major at Miami Dade College Eduardo J. Padron Campus Honors College. As the treasurer of Sigma Zeta National Science & Mathematics Honor Society, Jose invites the community to learn more about the importance of mathematics and programming. Yet, he also shares a profound love for poetry and music. When Jose is not coding or exploring the implementation of robotics in our society, he likes to spend time writing poetry and playing guitar. Being a new editor and writer for Urbana Literary & Arts magazine volume XIV, Jose aspires to share his voice and stories to Urbana's audience.