by Greg Dibs
The first time I played a blues scale, I knew what I was doing: reading notes. The first time I had to use the scale to improvise–to play a solo–I was more lost than a polar bear in the Sahara.
But my map, consisting of talented teachers, helped me find my way, and since the beginning, the euphonic appeal of wonderful riffs and progressions have inspired me.
It all started in third grade, when the black and white keys on a piano and the sounds they made captured my limited attention span. Many of my early memories involve me staring at a piano or mini keyboard, playing a simple melody that I had picked up by ear, and reveling in my own success, just glowing with that childhood joy and a sense of accomplishment.
As I began taking lessons and got my first keyboard, I played at every opportunity; I came home from school and started banging away on the piano immediately.
My parents would never force me to practice or perform on the piano, something I was and still am thankful for. By not forcing me to practice but simply encouraging me, I gained an appreciation for music that many unhappy kids who are made to practice daily, never experience.
I joined my junior high school’s jazz band in the seventh grade, and I was initially interested in playing keyboard. However, I had also played trombone since fourth grade, and that seemed more relevant to the band’s performance. It was also the director’s, Mr. Klemenok, favorite instrument.
This is when I picked up my first blues scale: the B flat blues scale. Its simplicity and fitting jazz sound excited me immediately; I could not wait to master it.
I gain new ideas every time I listen to jazz. I gain insight when I observe professional musicians. I gain confidence when I emulate those great jazz players.
Although I cannot play ballads like Duke Ellington, recreate resonant brass solos improvised by Miles Davis, pioneer genres like those sparked by John Coltrane, hit every stratospheric note on Gordon Goodwin tunes, or break the sound barrier like trumpeter Louis Armstrong, my training allows me to appreciate their brilliance.
Recently, five friends and I created a Dixieland band. Our first performance was on Halloween, and we have more gigs lined up in the near future.
Being part of a small ensemble, playing arrangements composed by one of our own members, and performing in front of others inspires us to continue to play challenging music, to create fresh sounds, to engineer innovative ideas.
Last Christmas, I bought a mini keyboard controller–a synthesizer that acts as the instrument for computer studio sound software.
Using exceptional house, DnB (Drum and Bass), and dubstep artists as guides, I crank out original beats with a passion, and use much of my spare time creating different sounds and brainstorming catchy rhythmic progressions.
More than anything, this is a way for my classical piano experience to translate into modern electronic genres: an activity that I will continue to pursue endlessly through and after college.
Nothing satisfies me like the impulsive crafting of black and white notes, through any musical medium: writing, playing, listening. I have the people surrounding me to thank for the nurturing of this passion.
My sister plays the flute and the piano; my parents sing and chant in my church’s choir; one of my brothers plays all types of saxophone in multiple, award-winning college bands.
Music is in my genes. My background, my musical family, encouraging band peers, and resilient educators in jazz ensemble, classical piano, and concert and symphonic bands have transformed my dreams and aspirations into a desire to continue to harmoniously play and perform.
Passion for Playing
by Greg Dibs