Finding My Creativity In Music

September Prompt: Creating As A Child

Mark Starlin
Sep 8, 2018 · 3 min read
Photo by Lee Starlin

In her September prompt, Lindsay Linegar asked us to write about our creative experiences as a child. Although I had many creative experiences as a child, I chose to narrow it down to the one greatest creative element of my life. Music.

Music has always been a part of my life. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t. Some of my earliest memories are listening to my Dad’s 8-tracks while riding in the car. The excitement I had when a big bus would pull up to our little corner church and a gospel quartet would perform a concert. And Saturdays, when my Dad would play albums on the stereo at home. I have always loved music. And the sound of the guitar in particular. But there was one pivotal moment when I went from listening to music, to having a strong desire to be the one creating music.

When I was nine or ten, someone left a guitar at our house for a couple of hours. I don’t remember who or why, but there it sat, up against our couch. I couldn’t resist. It seemed magical. I knew it could be used to make music. And music was magic to me. I slowly made my way closer and closer. I knew I probably shouldn’t touch it, but it was irresistible. I gently touched one of the strings. It made a sound. My heart jumped. I brushed my fingers across all the strings. The sound was fascinating. I was hooked. I knew at that very moment I would become a guitar player.

My Mom said, “Don’t play with that. It’s not a toy.”

I stopped, but I never forgot the feeling of sound coming from my fingers touching strings.

I spent the next two years hounding my parents for a guitar. They suggested I try a band instrument at school first. I took a year of trombone. I actually wanted to play the flute, but the band instructor told me that flutes were girl instruments and I needed to play trombone. Obviously, he just needed a trombone player for the band. My heart wasn’t in it. I wanted to play guitar. I quit at the end of the school year.

Finally realizing I would not abandon my begging, my parents bought me a cheap guitar for my 12th birthday. That began a love affair that continues to this day.

My first guitar. On my 12th birthday.

My parents never complained when, as a teen, I played guitar six hours straight, late into the night. In fact, my Mom said she had a hard time going to sleep at night after I moved out because there was no guitar playing. Nor did they complain when they had to drive me a half hour to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a half hour guitar lesson. I had outgrown the guitar teacher across the street and began taking lessons from a jazz guitarist named Robert Richter.

Me in the studio in the early 1980s.

After 46 years, making music is still one of the most enjoyable things I do. I currently play in two bands. Along the way, I have also learned some keyboards, bass, and ukulele. And I recently recorded an album of original music.

Still at it 46 years later.

Making music transports me to another place. A place of pure creativity. I love it. It is still as magical to me now as when I was a boy brushing my finger across those guitar strings for the very first time.

Creative Humans

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