I think my inclination towards music is probably one of my least known traits. I guess I’ve been too shy about it, until over the past few years. I’ve always been drawn to instruments for as early as I can remember. As a kid, I remember walking into different stores and gawking over the guitars and keyboards, with an irresistible urge to explore them. The first time I visited Guitar Center, I felt like I was in Disney World, surrounded by attractions. I remember watching Purple Rain for the first time when I was about 6 years old, which is NOT at all an appropriate film for a 6 year old (I actually wouldn’t recommend it at all at this stage in life). I recall being so intrigued with the powerful sound of the electric guitars. I mean, REALLY intrigued. My parents bought me my first electric keyboard from Radio Shack around this time and I would just play around on it. It took me no time to learn to play by ear. I can’t really explain how I caught on to it. I would just listen to sections of a song repetitiously and fumble around on the keyboard until I learned to form chords and mimic the sounds I heard. It has always come natural. I inherited the musical gene from my maternal grandparents, who were both phenomenal Gospel singers in the church. I also have cousins who are musicians. I have total confidence that, with sufficient time in practice, I can play almost about anything by ear.

One of my biggest childhood regrets is my lack of application and drive. As a kid, I was kind of lazy. I often ran from challenges instead of overcoming them. I lacked self-confidence, never really believing it could be me. Honestly, it wasn’t until my early adulthood that I really realized I had any talent at all. As a kid, my favorite pastimes were eating, tv, and video games. Unfortunately with this lazy complex, I didn’t apply myself to much at all, including music. I always had instruments in the house – keyboards and guitars (electric and acoustic). I even played trombone in my school’s band during the 4th grade, but there was no diligent consistency, so my full potential remained dormant. Retrospectively, I wish I had recognized my inclination towards music as true talent rather than just a hobby to play around with occasionally. I wish I would have fully devoted myself to the study and mastery of music. If I had done so, who knows where I’d be today.

The good news is it’s never too late, and as I entered adulthood I realized that. I looked over the course of my life and recognized that music (along with my other creative gifts) have always been with me. Always. When I was a teenager, my mom bought a new HP desktop computer (which was kept in her room for close monitoring). Somehow I stumbled across Super Duper Music Looper (music production software for kids) and it blew my mind. I was FASCINATED with the multitude of instrument sounds that the software produced. I quickly learned how to create various instrument tracks to form a song. This was my very first introduction and the catalyst to my love for music production. When I started college, I remember some of the guys who lived in my friends’ dorm would spend hours making beats on FruityLoops (professional music production software) and freestyling. This was my first introduction to professional music producing software and I had to have it. During the summer of 2006 right before returning to college for my sophomore year, I went to Best Buy and purchased Cake Walk music production software and learned how to remix some of my favorite songs. During my early adulthood, I continued to play around with music here and there, but a few more years passed before I awakened to the fact that music is a gift – a gift I needed to cultivate.

Around my second year of graduate school, I decided to enroll at Music Instruction for All Learners (MIFAL), founded and directed by Mr. Orlando Johnson. I had met Mr. Orlando a few years prior to my enrollment in the program and we always had conversations about music. He emphasized the limitations of playing by ear, suggesting that I enroll in lessons so I can gain classical training in theory and technique. Confident in my ability to play by ear, I initially resisted. I honestly didn’t think I needed it, but I decided that I didn’t want to just play around with music. I wanted to understand and eventually master it, so I enrolled in courses with Mr. Orlando and I am so glad that I did.

MIFAL is a wonderful organization that transforms people who play music into well versed, classically trained musicians. During my year and a half with the program, I learned many fundamental elements of music that laid a strong foundation that I am still building upon. I learned the many components of the music staff, notes, how to properly form chords, different types of chords, proper fingering techniques, and beats per measure, just to name a few. MIFAL sets a high standard of diligence and excellence, and I must say I was challenged. I once arrived to class with notes written out on the staff in my music book and Mr. Orlando was not happy to say the least. He made it known that such practice did not fit the core values of learning at MIFAL. It’s a moment that still tickles me, but it was a vital learning moment that reminded me that there are no shortcuts to mastery. In order to master music or any other craft, excellence, diligence and consistency is key. Though I was navigating a busy schedule in graduate school, Mr. Orlando challenged me to set aside at least 15 minutes a day for practice. Diligence and consistency strengthened my skills greatly, allowing me to power through the obstacles that once stagnated me from evolving as a musician. MIFAL inspired my transition from playing with music to actually playing music. Around this same time, I started making beats on GarageBand (music production software that I discovered when I bought my MacBook Pro) and I have grown significantly in that as well.

I highly recommend MIFAL to all who are serious about honing their musicianship. Excellence, diligence, consistency, and passion is what separates the average and mediocre from the professionals who recognize their gifting and strive to tap into their full potential. MIFAL is for those who are ready to take their skills to the next level. MIFAL is for those who have grown weary with remaining musically stagnated by the lack of understanding and training. MIFAL is for those who are aiming to achieve mastery. MIFAL is for those who are devoted to ascending as the cream of the crop. Mr. Orlando is a disciplinarian who will not tolerate laziness and apathy; however, he is a man of God who is devoted to magnifying Christ through his passion for music and he serves all who desire to learn music, regardless of age or background. Students at MIFAL will be embraced and supported with great love. All who come will not leave the same, unless they choose such a disservice. If you’re like me, musically inclined with the need to hone your craft, MIFAL is an organization that I highly urge you to consider. I am confident that you will gain musical knowledge that will never leave you. You will evolve into the musician that you were born to be, but the decision starts with you. Awaken to greatness because mediocre is not for you. Check out MIFAL today! Excellence awaits you. https://www.mifalinc.org/

Check me out employing some of the techniques I learned during my time with MIFAL. This is a random melody I had in my head and wanted to get out. Played on my Alesis V49 midi, recorded on Garageband.

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