Success and Music: It Starts in the Garage

(Photo by Jon Dabney)

Steven Najera considers himself to be a garage musician who plays in his off time and for fun. Still, the 20-year-old Vancouver man feels that the music he creates is a tool that helps cure boredom and drives his success in life.

“There was this one time when I went to go play with this guy, and we thought we’d just make something stupid,” Najera said. “He started playing drums while I played the guitar, and it ended up being tight. It made me just want to keep trying.”

The harmonization that happens while playing music is the same feeling one gets after accomplishing any group task, Najera said. “You can create a thousand different things,” he said. “But as long as one thing sounds good, everything else doesn’t matter.”

After Najera decided to begin playing music, his life began to feel more accomplished, he said. Though he does not perform in concerts, Najera feels that just jamming on his guitar increases his focus and improves the overall drive he has in life.

Steven Najera playing his guitar (Photo by Jon Dabney)

Najera, like many other people his age, is a college student looking for ways to pass the time. In his case, he found one of the mentally healthiest ways to do so.

Music and success are directly related, experts say. From effective business people to senators and entertainers, practicing music is a common denominator of success.

But music making rarely starts inside of a profession recording studio. For most young music makers, the raw sound of making music without a $200,000 recording studio is what increases their drive in life. In fact, even the most unprofessional garage music can have an impact on the brain and drives people to places they thought unreachable.

Music, in the case of both solo players and performers who play in bands, is often considered to be a therapeutic tool. An article by the website Healthy Children explains that music and health are irrefutably related. There are correlations between music and stress, anxiety, moods, sleep and more.

Another story on PBS Parents further explains that music and success are related. The article, written by Laura Lewis Brown, delves into multiple aspects of how music impacts the human brain. It leads, for example, to higher IQ, improves language development, spatial-temporal skills and even test scores.

Dr. Jacob Funk, a coral music expert and instructor of choir and orchestral music at Clark College, explained that performing music together can produce a sense of productivity hard to find elsewhere.

“When people begin to sing together, play instruments or both, their heartbeats begin to come into sync, as well as their breathing,” said Funk. “It comes from being in a group and working toward a common goal.”

Funk said that he was in a band in high school and felt it was a great experience. “We got to talk about what was going on in the world and in our lives. It was a low-risk situation that let you express yourself,” he said.

According to an article by Frank Fitzpatrick of Huffington Post, very prominent figures in politics, business and other positions of fame have revealed that their love of playing music has helped them to become a better person.

A common ground shared among musicians from the Vancouver area is that music does indeed drive them toward something. Success, though, is a broad term and can mean different things to different people.

Russell Tennant (Photo by Jon Dabney)

Russell Tennant, a 26-year old band member and student at Clark College living in Vancouver, agrees with the correlation between music and success and believes music makes life easier for those who play it.

“Music helps them channel their own emotional energy into something, so that the emotional aspects of the things in their life wearing them down aren’t as strenuous,” Tennant said. “It lets them put all the energy into something that they need to.”

Tennant related this distinction to the way in which we relate success and music. He feels there is a very prominent connection:

“Those same people who went out and became billionaires, who played instruments as kids, had the same mindset for both things. If you put your mind to it, you’re going to get better at it. I think that applies in business, music or really anything.”

This view and the feeling of drive being derived from music is shared among many of Vancouver’s young musicians. Ian Grimes, another musician from the Vancouver area, feels differently about the connection between success and music.

“I think that making music doesn't necessarily make you successful,” said Grimes. “But it definitely makes you feel more confident in life.”

Grimes, who is in a band that formed together in high school and has played regularly since then, finds music is a more therapeutic tool than anything else.

“Any time I’m feeling angry or frustrated, the first thing I grab is my guitar,” he said.

At the same time, he said, music can be dangerous when it comes to the realm of egos. “I have seen it be both good and bad,” Grimes said.

“I’d say that my personality bleeds into my music, more than my music bleeds into my personality,” Grimes added.

According to these local practicing musicians, music is both a therapeutic tool as well as another way to drive you mentally toward your goals.

There is no argument — they say — music can improve a person’s life.

(Photo by Jon Dabney)