People say a picture is worth a thousand words. To me, music is worth more. Music is not only worth a thousand words, but music conveys emotions that function at a unique frequency. From a simple jazz gig at a local café to the Berlin Philharmonic’s rendition of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concertos, music conveys a sense of emotions that one is unable to express through words. With my newfound ability to communicate these emotions, as before this they remained bottled in my hypercritical teenage mind, I not only began to express myself as an individual but unconventionally discovered innovation. Therefore, music-isness describes how music, through the medium of a saxophone, provided me with a platform to communicate and introduced me to the world of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Music & Me
I have two mouths. One is used to communicate recognized lexicon and the other is to express myself. This second one has slowly grown to become the mouth that defines me. My very own 1954 Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone serves as this second mouth, or rather an extension of who I am, as it permits to otherwise express emotions that are subdued within the mind of a teenager. While others may see black ink on a page, music to communicates at another level, allowing me to experience emotions otherwise only possible by words.
From naively playing Careless Whisper continuously to mastering Rachmaninoff’s literature, the saxophone has shaped me in different ways, sometimes serving a pillow to cry on or a tool for celebration. Throughout middle school, the saxophone served as a method for me to rediscover my identity, wherein in high school, it has served as a tool for me to express my true emotions that are too shy to come out themselves.
The saxophone, despite its inanimate nature, has acted as an animate friend, support system, and communicator for me, eventually permitting me to express both words and emotions through the same mouth.
(Saxophone = Entrepreneurship)?
Whenever I place my reed on the tenor saxophone mouthpiece, I am preparing myself to walk down an imaginary path of emotions, feelings, and ambitions that I have never encountered before. As I prepare to walk this path, the excitement of building it as I play, whether that is through soloing on the B-flat Blues scale or by reciting a string of 32nd notes from an old All-State etude, entices me to explore further, helping me express my identity in a different manner. And it is with this sense of creativity that I became immersed in the field of entrepreneurship when I first encountered it. As I wrote in The First Step, the small moments that I experienced did not tie together until it was for music, in which the creativity I was able to express through my saxophone and the business acumen I had developed through my earlier projects united as one, to form me, a social entrepreneur.
However, you may be asking, is that all it took? Just a few jam sessions over a cliché jazz track?
To answer your question, yes and no. As I discussed before, music is not black ink on a page to me, it is something else. Something incredibly special. And my connection with the saxophone and the sounds I was able to express through it renewed my sense of creativity and therefore helped me grow my qualitative mindset which complemented my seasoned quantitative skillset. In addition to this creativity, however, music also taught me the definition of passion.
Passion, according to the Gurnoor Narula Dictionary is, “something you go crazy over… where it is easy to ‘get in the zone’.” As the bird on the living room grandfather clock used to indirectly remind me that 12 AM is a time to be sleeping, the beckoning of my saxophone characterized most of my nights. And whether I was practicing a solo jazz feature, my All-State etudes, or an excerpt from our marching show, this internal drive and enjoyment that came with playing was similar to the feeling I felt when working on my startup, automatically gravitating me towards this field.
Ultimately, whether it was the creativity that came with performance or the passion and internal drive that motivated me to perfect my skillset, the different world that one enters through the medium of music tied those small moments together, building my own path to become an entrepreneur.
What better way to experience music then to interact with it globally?
That was my thought process when applying to the GENIUS Olympiad competition as a music finalist. And as I tirelessly practiced, recorded, and formatted, only to convince myself that I could do better and therefore forced myself redo the entire process, the final night of submission gave me an indescribable amount of satisfaction. In addition, throughout the process itself, not only was I excited about the fact that becoming a finalist would enable me to connect with people on a global scale through the medium of music but I developed a new area that I had not yet explored: sustainability.
Stemming from my leadership experiences and readings of Simon Sinek, I had come to follow the philosophy that you are only worth what you give away. And what better to give away than a sustainable future? So then began a new path, as I looked to merge music, entrepreneurship, and sustainability to develop my future.
At the actual competition, I was elated to have performed Introduction and Samba by Maurice Whitney, as I advocated for environmental sustainability through the protection of the Amazon Rainforest, utilizing music as a tool to express this desire. And through this performance, I learnt something about myself that the quantitative side of me battled to keep hidden. I need my money (or at my age my efforts) to speak. Speak for a cause or a purpose. With this epiphany and the numerous other experiences, I underwent, all paths converged at social entrepreneurship.
So naturally, as the rest of the finalists went to celebrate the conclusion of the GENIUS Olympiad competition at nearby Niagara Falls, I snuck into the SUNY Oswego library, calling it home for 6 hours to research what I could do to change the world. After 6 hours of intensive research, contemplation, brainstorming, and hunger, I came out of that library like a boss, equipped with a list of ideas that I would look to work on to develop my startup. And that, my friends, was the rue start of Groundify.
Every good entrepreneur knows that moving forward and progress is vital. Every great entrepreneur knows that reflection and then growth is more important. Looking back, I do not believe, I know, that music has defined me as a person. From giving me a platform to find myself to providing me with a medium to express my emotions to acting as a segue into my passion for social entrepreneurship, music and the saxophone have changed me for the better. It has propelled me to celebrate myself and retain pride in what I stand for while inspiring proud moments for me through my achievements and growth in the field of entrepreneurship. It has been a blessing in disguise, and I look forward to holding onto music, something so close to me that letting it slip away is not an option. As described before, music has equaled entrepreneurship for me. The tireless hours of practice inspired innovation, the 6 hours of research taught me persistence, while the ability to perform and present showed me the vitality of professionalism, and each of these qualities, working in tandem, made me the entrepreneur I am today and continue to guide me as I look to grow.
“Music-isness” had defined me as a person and I look forward to this same skill guiding me in my future towards success, continuous growth, and positive impact.