Update + Why music university might not be for you…

Hey everyone, just an update, and stuff.

So, first of all, a story. This is a long one. (It could be a lot longer, it’s a story 26 years in the making, I’ve cut it down to the main points.)

I started playing Guitar in 1993. In the summer holidays, around August. I saw Bill & Ted for the first time, and then one week later I saw the second Bill & Ted movie. And they made me want to play Guitar.

A couple weeks later, I was in my room when I heard a Guitar being played from my parents room. It was my dad playing his classical Guitar. So I went in, sat on the end of my parents bed and watched him strum some chords to a song. He then asked if I wanted a go and that became my first Guitar lesson.

Four months later, on Christmas day I was given my first electric guitar, a Jim Harley. It was cheap but as a kid I never noticed. I loved playing it, and 2 months later in February of 94, I started having lessons after school every Monday (I was now 8 years old). The lessons were 30 minutes away from home, which my dad drove me to. They never got boring and the time with my dad was great. But the teacher wasn’t actually qualified and 3 years later my dad found me another teacher who could teach me a lot more of the important things. It would be several months before I left the first teacher however, so I had 2 teachers for a time. Mondays and Thursdays.

The second teacher was cool but a little more strict. Through my high school years the lessons did get a little tedious, but I ploughed through them. By the time I got to music collage in 2002 at age 16, I had my home teacher every Thursday, and the collage I joined also gave us a Guitar teacher, also on Thursdays. So I was back to having 2 teachers again for the next 3 years.

Starting collage I had already passed my Grade 5 with merit, which was a higher level than everyone else on my course was at and also higher than students on the year above me. This next bit makes me sound big headed, but I was constantly being told by teachers and students on my year, the year higher than me and the year higher than them, that I was the best Guitarist in collage. I didn’t agree but it was pretty cool they were saying it, it actually helped me keep improving, and in my final year in 2005 the collage asked us to take rock school exams, which would also go towards our final mark.

I was one of four taking Grade 8, and I passed with Distinction, also the highest mark for Guitar the collage had seen.

I was sad to leave collage because those 3 years were amazing and I met some awesome people there. But it was time to go into adulthood and make a living. I figured I’d wait till September to do that, as I wanted the summer of 2005 to be my final summer holiday.

My Dad had other plans though. He was desperate for me to go to University, as it would make me the first person in the history of my family to attend uni and get a degree. This is where I made the biggest mistake of my life. I agreed to go.

Looking back I wish I’d said no to him. I wanted to get a part time job and start a band. This would keep my love for music alive and I’d be getting work experience before the recession of 2008.

Instead I went to an interview. They asked about my grades, I said I had grade 8 and they instantly gave me a position on the course. My music theory however wasn’t great, which meant I needed to do one extra year before I went onto the main 3 year course. Dad seemed very happy that I got in so easy, and so I went because I didn’t want to disappoint him.

Now, we aren’t a rich family, sometimes we’ve been very close to not having food on the table in the past, on more than one occasion. We couldn’t afford for me to live at the university. So I would commute everyday. The uni was 45 miles away. The commute involved a bus, 2 trains and a 15 minute walk. It took 2.5 hours just to get to uni. But the journey home always took 3 hours.

5.5 hours of travelling daily, I would wake up at 6am to leave and get home at 8:30pm.

For the first and second year this was daily, for the 3rd and 4th year it was a few days a week. And Wednesday’s I had 1 lesson that last 1 hour.

Yeah, I had a 5.5 hour journey for a 1 hour lesson.

6 months into the first year I told my parents I wanted to leave. The travelling had gotten to me and I was beyond bored at uni.

But my dad came to my room and gave me the guilt trips to end all guilt trips.
“You’re the first of our family to go to uni.”
“You’ve put so much effort into your Guitar to quit now”

He had his routine and it got me every time.

In the second year I tried again, twice.

In the 3rd year I gave up and told myself, I’m half way through, I may as well stay now.

The reason I wanted to leave in the first place was because I could feel it wasn’t right for me. It wasn’t just the 27.5 hours a week of travelling, (which effectively made me lose an entire day every week just sat on public transport) But I could feel the love for my Guitar dissipating.

Constant essays on the history of music, 3000 words on jazz and blues, not once but two or three times. The boring lessons I was too tired from my commute to stay awake in. More than half the people on my course were cunts. I made a few friends, two I still speak to today. And because I didn’t live near by, I missed out on all the uni gatherings, the parties and movie nights.

The uni fees at this time were still reasonable unlike today, £1500 a year + £1100 on transport per year. A total of £10,400 for the 4 years. I can’t help but feel guilty for that money being wasted on an education that has benefited me in no way what so ever. I realise how ungrateful all this make me sound. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful to my parents for wanting the best for me. It’s what any good loving parent would want/do for their kids. They just didn’t realise the full extent of the effect uni was having on me.

By the 3rd year I hated the Guitar. I would get home and I would leave it in its case until the next week when I needed it for uni band practice. Sometimes I hated to even look at it. But at band practice I would force myself through it as I didn’t want to let the other students down.

My home guitar teacher decided to stop lessons after I left college in 2005 as he said I was now at grade 8 level and the rest of my Guitar journey would be best done by myself. I agreed, but I was given a new Guitar teacher at Uni, who was a complete twat of a man. I would spend ten minutes before his lessons learning the stuff he gave me the week before, we got weeks behind because I just didn’t care any more. It got to the point where I didn’t want to waste his time, so I just stopped going to his lessons. Him having an early lunch break would be better than 30 minutes shouting and moaning at me.

I left Uni in 2009 with a 2:2 degree (Zero effort, I should have gotten a 3rd or a fail)

I hated music now and did nothing with it until two years later in 2011.

Also, getting a job after leaving uni was next to impossible, because of the recession in 2008. I got told by the job centre that every job in my area was being applied to by over 2000 people. I had a 1 in 2000 chance of being given an interview. I had no job experience and a music degree that is useless to 99.99% of all jobs.

I applied for over 800 jobs and got only 1 interview. I didn’t get the job.

In 2011 I was asked by a guy from uni whom I had never spoke to before but was somehow on my Facebook, if I wanted to join his band. I figured maybe it’s time to dust off the Guitar and give music another crack.

I was in the band for 4 years. The most I earned was £20. And the guy turned out to be a back stabbing prick. The drummer was ace tho, best drummer from uni. I hope he left and found something better to do. Anyway, I’m not mentioning the band because I don’t wanna give them any free publicity. I left them in 2015. I still didn’t really enjoy playing music, but there was a spark there, a small ember that could grow if I worked on it. So I had an idea to start my own studio and work on my own music. Sell it online, use YouTube and all the other socials. But even setting up the studio took a long time to achieve. And by the time I had it finished in 2018, that ember was almost completely gone.

I forgot to say I eventually got a job in 2014, working on a farm every morning, 3am to 8am, 7 days a week, until September 2018. That job gave me the money for my studio and a healthy safety net to fall back on.

I’ve been working on all sorts of projects with the studio in the last 13 months. And have been trying to get back into playing Guitar more. But the passion I had as a kid and teen for the Guitar has all but gone. I no longer feel anything will ever come of playing it. So from now on, I’m done. It will forever be a hobby, something I play once every couple weeks, maybe months.

Recently I’ve been learning to play keyboard, which I kinda wish was my original instrument of choice, given how much easier it is to play than Guitar.

In 2014 I also learn to play drums and got to grade 4 level.

Both of these I still enjoy playing, but will also treat as nothing more than a hobby.

The Studio will stay active, and the YouTube channel will stay up. As I will do the occasional music cover video, I happen to have my first piano cover coming out this Friday (9th Aug).

I may do a Guitar cover every now and then, but don’t hold your breath.

As for my pedal demo videos, anyone can tell the effort isn’t there, playing Guitar even just for those isn’t enjoyable. So there will be no more pedal demos.

But, my studio was created to be a music studio? Right?

Well . . . no, I always intended the studio to be involved in more than music. I have a 30 minute hiking video with Adam (who I met at Uni), due to be uploaded within the next few weeks. Adam was in the studio recently to record his Voice Over parts for it.

We have more hikes planned in the future, which will also be filmed for YouTube.

I have a Podcast with my best friend from music collage. That’s extremely funny, you will be notified when it’s ready.

And the top secret project I’ve been working on for the past 10 months is a Fantasy Fiction Novel with Ten short stories planned after the novels release.

One thing I missed out on my university story. In 2007 when I was completely bored in one of the music history lessons, I started writing stories. And I’ve been writing almost every year since. Some projects (most actually) never even got half way. But the book I’m now working on is almost done.

Adam also wants to write a short story based in the fantasy world I’ve created for my novel, which will be awesome.

Guitar has always been my focus with writing as a hobby. I’m now flipping that round as I think writing may be more lucrative, it’s also more enjoyable for me.

So, I think that’s basically everything. I’m hanging up my Guitar and picking up a Pen instead (keyboard actually).

If you read this far, I want to thank you. And I hope you stay for the journey this studio is going on for the foreseeable future.

And the moral of this lengthy post?

If you don’t want to go to a university, or if you’re already there and feel it sucking the life out of you, LEAVE. And don’t let anyone make you stay, because the harm it can do to you mentally, emotionally and the harm it can do to the subject you love, can possibly be unrecoverable. Looking back at the last 14 years as I write this post, I can clearly see I was depressed and did nothing about it. So, don’t make my mistakes. Do what you feel is right for you.

~TJ

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