The Sound of Music (Not the One You’re Thinking of)


Photo Credit: Monte Fresco, Ethan Russell Date: August 22 1969

By Clive Fernandez – 9th Grade 2nd Place Finalist

On any day, at any time, and at any given moment, there is about a 99.99% chance that I will have my airpods on hand. A silicone, matte, dark blue case carrying possibly the two most important things in the world to me. It doesn’t matter the genre, I’m always listening to something, preferably 60-90s rock. My obsessive listening habits don’t go without reason. 

Growing up, I often felt more connected to music than to people. While the sound of people’s voices sounded like jumbled-up garbage, music sounded like it was clearly speaking to me, like William Shakespeare himself was performing a sonnet. I was yelled at frequently for listening to music at the dinner tableand also for doing finger drums on the table—but no matter what, I was drawn to that flickering hypnosis. Whether it was the sound of sticks hitting the drum, the sweet, baritone, sounds made by the bass guitar, or the somehow aggressive calm of the electric guitar- music was my first love, and it will always be the one closest to my heart. Even in some of my heaviest storms, music has been there to clear the clouds and make the sun shine again. I try to think of where I would be without music and my go-to response is usually, “institutionalized.” However, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what music has done for me. 

When I was a kid, I was often bullied. People didn’t like me, and I wasn’t necessarily too fond of them either. I was always too weird for them. I didn’t smile enough, sat alone at lunch, and couldn’t form a proper sentence without stuttering; these were the usual qualms other kids had with me. I generally tried to stay away from them, by being in my own little bubble, doodling and cracking my knuckles. One day, as I was mindlessly scrolling through YouTube, searching for my next fixation, something piqued my interest. It was a video for the song, ‘Back In The U.S.S.R.’ by The Beatles. I had heard of them before, but I had never heard their music. I listened intently, and as soon as the first chorus was over, I was hooked. I quickly became obsessed, my serotonin increasing with every strum of the guitar or beat of the drum. I hung onto every word sung, loving every minute. I stayed up way past my bedtime, finding a plethora of new discoveries. When I was at school the next morning, I was a different person. Sure, I still sat alone at lunch, I still couldn’t form a proper sentence because of my stutter, still bullied, but I started to smile again. While I doodled, instead of sitting silently, looking unhappily at the paper before me, I was humming joyfully. My doodles, once bleak and uninspired, were full of the bliss of youth and vitality. I don’t believe in a ton of things, but I do believe in music. I believe in the power of music. Because without it, I wouldn’t be the same person.