About 5 months ago, I was interviewed by my bandmate and a Psychology major at school. Their topic was about the emotional wellness of a musician. Leaning towards music therapy, the study (I was shown the whole paper) aimed first at how musicians live their daily life. Since the interviewer became my bandmate, he already knew my lifestyle in school. But, during the course of the interview, he found another side of my musicianship and personality. Here’s the case study and will be followed by the transcription of the interview.
Tony is a regular college student. His sleeping patterns are well connected with whatever his schedule dictates. As soon as he wakes up, Tony usually fiddles with the radio. He always finds time to listen to the news and update himself with what’s happening in our country. Before he gets ready for school, he always allots a few minutes to listen to FM radio to find out what kind of music are in the mainstream. He usually wakes up an hour before his first class everyday so after those few minutes, he turns off the radio and leaves for school.
At school, Tony always has free time in between classes. At these times it is either he visits his girlfriend or he finds company with his schoolmates. Whenever he finds his time alone, he always listens to his mp3 player and seems to fiddle with the melody with his hands. When his break is longer than expected, he always finds himself looking for a guitar to play with or to eat outside. Most of the time while in class, he puts one earphone to his ear and plays soft jazz to help him relax.
Tony is like one of the usual college students. Without homework and such, he always finds time to hang-out with friends or go home with his girlfriend. When going home alone, he always plays his mp3 player, especially on commutes. If he is with his girlfriend or any other company, he always has one earphone on his ear to listen to either Metal or Jazz to help hm set his mood.
After school, as he arrives home, he goes straight to his room and surfs the internet. He usually tries to catch up on his social networks like blogs and Facebook, but most of the time, he goes through his favourite songs in youtube and studies them. The way he studies them is that he watches the bands’ live performances and emulates the tracks on his guitar or his bass. At this time, he usually invests a good 1 and a half hour to practice music and heads to sleep before 10 pm.
Tony’s musical experience could be traced from his childhood. His mother played the violin and that made Tony curious about string instruments. He bought his first guitar before highschool and sticked to mastering it until now. He had been playing for 10 years during this study and that is projected through his knowledge on music. Tony’s musical experience also shows his ability to identify chords and melodies and even tamper on scores. He has been a part of more than 8 different bands and had recently left a semi-pro band to finish school. Now, he is a solo instrumentalist that helps other bands and plays session with them.
For Tony, music for a musician has 2 sides, the artist side and the business side. The artist side dictates the feelings and emotions he considers as expressions that his music shows. He believes that in order to get better in music, he must be better emotionally. He also believes that music is an art form therefore an expression of emotion. On the other hand, for him, music’s business side is about time and money. He believes that the time and money you invest on music is very important as a musician. His mind is set on to different aspects on music which showed the researcher the extent of Tony’s emotional wellness.
The researcher, as part of Tony’s recent band, saw a slight improvement on Tony’s music but saw an even bigger improvement on his behaviour. As Tony got older and more experienced, he seemed to be more in control of his responsibilities and emotions. The researcher realized that with the experience that Tony showed, as a musician, he has shown a certain level of emotional wellness greater than other artists. Tony’s behaviour seemed to be more calmed and calculated compared to his past self who seemed to be irritable and restless. Tony seemed to have realized that letting his emotions run amock made him lose the integrity of his music.
At the end of the study, the researcher concluded that Tony may have a certain level of emotional wellness but was not only shown in his music but in his behaviour as well. Also, being emotionally well means being aware of one’s feelings and being ready to accept them. Tony, with his experience to boot, showed that his music not only improved his attitude towards the craft but allowed him to balance his emotions and somehow learn to control his expectations.
While the interview took about 10 minutes, the transcription sent to me was botched. Although, when I read it, it did not lose the meaning of what I wanted to say. Here’s the transcription of the interview. Enclosed in brackets is the translation and additional data that was omitted in the transcription stage.
October 17 ,2013 12:20 – 12:58 pm Interviewee #3 (I3)
Me: Good afternoon! I am Jayvee Vigare of Kalayaan College and thank you for participating in this interview. This interview is about the role of music on a musician’s emotional wellness. I am going to ask you a few questions and please answer as truthfully as possible. If you find a question too personal and you would rather not answer it, please feel free to call my attention to it.
I3: Sige sige! Maraming salamat din sa opportunity! *calmed and focused*
Me: Sige start na tayo! First question, what do you usually do when you wake up first thing in the morning?
I3: Uhm…*got into deep thought* *kept the serious mood* Usually kase pag gising ko konti lang oras ko before ako mag-ayos para sa school. Pero usually, nakikinig ako ng FM radio agad para maki-uso sa balita then makikinig ako ng music stations para ma check kung ano mga uso ngayon. (Usually, when I wake up, I only have a little time before I prepare for school. But, I make it a habit to listen to the radio to keep up with current events and music.)
Me: Ok ok. So are you happy with your current lifestyle?
I3: Well I can’t say na masaya ako ngayon. Or with what is happening currently, pero meron kaseng dalawang side jan eh. Una is ung fact na hindi pa ako tapos sa school diba? Tapos nag shift out pa ako ng ibang course. So medyo hirap pero thinking ahead, mas towards positive naman ako. Ung other side naman jan is ung hopefulness sa music. So bale nag eexpect parin ako na umarangkada sa music so think positive parin. (Well, I can’t say I’m happy right now [the interview proper]. Or, with what is happening currently [I got in an argument with my now-ex-girlfriend], but there are two sides to that: First is the fact that I’m still a student and I shifted to another course. It’s difficult but, thinking ahead, I’m aiming towards the positive. On the other hand, I’m still hopeful about (my) music. So, I expect to continue making music that’s why I’m thinking positive.)
Me: Ok so can you say that you’re a happy person?
I3: Well, ngayon I can say na masaya akong person eh. (Well, I can say that, generally, I am a happy person.)
Me: How do you explain this?
I3: Well kita mo naman may girlfriend ako ngayon then I still have my music tapos I may take up a lot of time sa college pero slowly and steadily naman maayos ang daloy eh. (Well, you know I have a girlfriend, then I still have my music [not really creating music but discovering new music] although I may take up a lot of time in college, my life is moving slowly and steadily.)
Me: Since nadito na rin tayo sa topic na yan, what made you start music?
I3: Actually yung mom ko eh. Yung mom ko kase dati violinist. So minsan sinusubukan ko itry then eventually I started playing na yung guitar. Nag escalate na from there na nag start ako mag bass. Actually 10 years na ako ng aaral ng music at nagpapractice pero para sa akin marami pa akong bigas na kakainin. (Actually, it’s because of my mom. She was a violinist [practicing chops and chords]. So I got curious and tried it then, eventually, I started playing the guitar. It escalated from there and then I started to play the bass. I’ve been studying and practicing music for 10 years but I still have a lot to learn.)
Me: So ang influence mo sa music is family agad. (So, your family is your influence in music.)
I3: Apparently, yes. *kept serious demeanour*
Me: Ok ok, so how do you take criticism in your music?
I3: Anong klaseng criticism? Good or bad? (What kind of criticism? Good or bad?)
Me: Both naman. Pero more of, how do you take it? Ano nararamdaman mo? (Both. But more of how do you take it? What do you feel about it?)
I3: Well sa akin naman kase, lagi naman ako maki-criticese eh. Hindi naman kase ako perpektong musikero. Pero syempre ang bad criticism ay bad criticism. Hindi lang natatanggal sa utak ko na kailangan ang bad criticism para sa improvement ko as a musician. (Well, I know I always get criticsized. I’m not a perfect musician. But, of course, bad criticism is bad criticism. I make it a point that I need bad criticism for my improvement as a musician.)
Me: So reinforcing siya for you pero nasasaktan ka parin sa pagtanggap ng bad? (So, it’s reinforcing for you but you still get hurt in accepting bad criticism?)
I3: Oo naman *escalated to a more serious mood* Syempre bad criticism nga eh. So bale bad lang ang take pero good ang nilalaman. Yun ang magiging basis ko to improve on myself. (Yes, of course. That’s why it’s bad criticism. It just has a bad take but its intention is good. That’s my basis to improve on myself.)
Me: Oh sige sige, next one. If someone were to say that you should stop music, how would you feel?
I3: Hmmm~ *started to think deeper* Actually in my current situation, ayaw ng magulang ko na ituloy ko ang music. Pero hindi ko ito balak i-quit. More or less dapat nga sa current lifestyle ko magstop na ako sa music eh. Pero alam mo naman siguro na napaumpisahan na eh. At tsaka ito ang pasyon ko. Never itong mawawala sa buhay. (In my current situation [school-related], my parents do not want me to continue music. But, I do not plan to quit. You know, in my current lifestyle, I should stop music completely. But, you know that (we) have started on it. And it’s my passion. It will never go away.)
Me: So ano pinaka nararamdaman mo jan? (So what do you really feel?)
I3: Actually yung dilemma ko was to have to choose between my girlfriend or music… yun mahirap pagdesisyonan eh. (My dilemma was to have to choose between my girlfriend or being in a band. I chose my girlfriend.)
Me: So nag aalign ka ba towards pressure?
I3: Actually yun na nga eh. Nafefeel ko yung pressure na kailangan kong sukuan ang isang bagay na sobrang mahirap bitawan. So mahirap sila pagtimbangin. (That’s the point. I felt the pressure that I needed to give up one thing/person that means a lot to me. So it was hard to weigh them.)
Me: Ok, so what is your state of mind when practicing music?
I3: Ako naman kase may 2 sides eh. Pag nagpapractice, aim mo is to improve diba? So syempre open mind ang kailangan. Pero kase ang pagmu-music ay merong business aspect eh. Kase iisipin mo ung investment mo sa money and time on the resources mo so minsan kailangan alerto ka pag nag eensayo. (I have 2 sides to that. The aim of practicing is to improve, right? So, of course, you need to have an open mind. But, music also has a business aspect. When you think about it, you invest on time and money for your resources [equipment] so sometimes you have to be alert when you practice [to not waste time and money].
Me: So more of open-mindedness ba o business ang mindset mo?
I3: Sa practice, open-mindedness ang mas malakas. (During practice, open-mindedness prevails.)
Me: Ok so next, at what point in a day do you practice music?
I3: *briskly explains with a next level of seriousness* Syempre practically speaking naman, magpapractice ako sa libreng time ko. So alone, iisipin ko muna responsibilities ko then saka ako magdedecide na papraktisin. Then kung sa banda naman, kailangan mapag agreehan ng buong banda ang practice schedule para hindi magulo. (Practically speaking, I practice on my free time. So alone, I think of my responsibilities then I’ll decide if I want to practice and what to practice. Then, when I’m jamming with a band, we have to agree about the practice schedule so it won’t be a hassle.)
Me: So sa availability ka? Wala itong ritual pre-text?
I3: Kung meron man? Oo meron. Kung may strings ang gitara ko. (If there is, yes. If my guitar has strings.)
Me: Ok so next question, when do you usually listen to music?
I3: Pag nag-cocommute. At occasional soundtrip sa bahay. (When I go to school/home. And occasional sound trip when I’m in my room.)
Me: Bakit sa mga situations na yun?
I3: Well ayokong nag-cocommute na walang mp3 player dahil sobrang gusto ko magconcentrate sa surroundings ko. May beat at tempo ang music so sinusundan ko yun with time management. Mga tipong 3 minutes ang isang song. So kung maka tatlong songs ako until yung station, mga 9 minutes ang travelling time ‘diba? (I do not want to commute without my mp3 player because I want to concentrate on my surroundings [through the music coming in my ears]. [There's a beat and tempo to every song so I follow that with time. Music makes me manage and be aware of my time. Example, songs usually lasts 3 minutes. So when I finish three songs and reach the [train] station, I automatically think the whole trip lasted 9 minutes. It makes me aware of the time I spent and what I could have done. At the same time, on the other side of the stick, it also makes me manipulate time or eliminate the concept of it completely. But, that’s another story.])
Me: Yung soundtrip sa bahay parang ritual na ba yon?
I3: Oo, precisely. Mga alone time ko yun. (Precisely. It’s my alone time.)
Me: Ok so, after a stressful day, what kind of music do you listen to?
I3: Stress? *utters quietly and no mood change whatsoever* Simply saying, kailangan ko mag vent out in a peaceful solution kung stress. So ang papakinggan ko metal. Ang metal kasi eh diba aggressive so cater na ang pent-up anger ko. So syempre pag pamilya ang stress ko ayoko na mag vent out sa kanila diba? So nakakatulong ang metal pang vent out ng konti. Pero minsan para lang marelax deretso ako sa jazz. Wala lang, para lang at least kung physically stressed ka din, mas relaxing making ng jazz. (Stress? Simply saying, I need to vent out in a peaceful way when stressed. So I listen to metal. Metal is aggressive so it caters to my pent-up anger. So, when I have stress because of family issues, I don’t want to vent-out to them, right? So metal helps me to vent-out a little. But, sometimes, for me to relax, I go straight to jazz. When I’m physically stressed, it’s more relaxing to listen to jazz.)
Me: So hindi cure ang hanap mo for stress but parang punching bag?
I3: If you put it that way, siguro. Kase nakakapag vent out ako with metal eh. After ng song chill nalang ako. So siguro nga. (If you put it that way, maybe. Because with metal I can vent-out. Then I can chill after [with jazz]. So, yeah, maybe.)
Me: With that in mind, what type of music appeals to your emotions the most?
I3: Well siguro kung deretsahan, metal talaga. (Metal.)
Me: So bakit metal ang choice mo.
I3: Unang una sa lahat *slightly beginning to lighten up* Ang metal kase sa form palang is loud and powerful. Yung lyrics ng metal songs ay iba sa kung ano mang genre eh. Kahit love or hate man yun, kayang kaya i-project ng metal ung feelings agad. So, yun. (First of all, metal is powerful and loud. The lyrics of metal songs are different no matter what sub-genre it belongs to. Whether it’s about love or hate, metal can project feelings.)
Me: So metal ang nakaka-appeal sayo ngayon?
I3: Oo, sobra. I mean, kase sa form pa nga lang ma appeal na. Pero syempre ilang taon ko pinag-aralan ang ganyan form so sobrang naa-appreciate ko na sya ngayon. (Yes. I mean, it’s appealing in form. But, of course, I’ve studied it for years… it’s only now that I’m beginning to appreciate it.)
Me: So on that note, do you believe that the genre of music can influence emotions?
I3: Oo nga actually. Going back nga sa metal. Ang metal sa form palang is malakas na. So pag ang isang tao, kahit ang hindi musician, makaencounter ng metal music, madaling maipit ang impression nun. Eh ang metal ay loud and aggressive so more or less, for a musician, nakakatulong ang metal sa situations na kailangan ang ganoong emotions. Like for example, propaganda, rally and other stuff like that, sobrang laki ng factor ng music. Hindi lang sa metal pero sa ibang genres pa. (Yes. Going back to metal. It’s appealing. So when someone, even a non-musician, encounters metal music, the impression [of emotions] sticks to them. Metal is loud and aggressive. For a musician, metal helps in situations where that kind of emotions are needed. Example: propaganda, rally, and other stuff like that. Music plays a big factor. Not just in metal, but in other genres.)
Me: Picking up from there, does the kind of music you listen to affect your behaviour?
I3: Well ha, sa ngayon, metal or progressive ako eh. So yung rapport ko ngayon medyo dark pero masaya pero most of the time aggressive alam mo yun? (Right now, I’m into [progressive metal]. So my emotions are dark: I’m happy but most of the time I’m aggressive.)
Me: So to take it into a different context, dahil sa current genres na ina-absorb mo, naaapektohan yung standard behaviour mo?
I3: Actually, oo. Kase kung iisipin mo naman, kailangan ko to maproject din para totally ma absorb ko ung genre. So to be frank, yes. Sobrang vital ang music ko ngayon sa behaviour ko. (Yes. When you think about it, you need to project [the emotions] to totally absorb the genre. So, to be frank, yes. Music is vital to my behavior.)
Me: Hmmmm~ ok so last one, do you agree that music holds an important role on a musician’s emotional wellness?
I3: Of course. Tama tama. Ganun naman talaga eh. Kase kung iisipin mo, music naman kase is an art form. Eh ang art, kahit sa paintings or sculptures pa yun, is a way for an artist to convey his feelings or emotions. So bale nature ng music talaga ang emotion. So kung ang tinatanong mo ay kung may role ang music sa emotional wellness ng isang tao, then obviously oo. Malaki ang part ng music doon. (Of course. You’re right. When you think about it, music is a form of art. Art, whether it’s a painting, a sculpture, [photography, poetry, short story, novel, etc.] is a way for an artist to convey his feelings or emotions. So the nature of music is really emotions. So, your question if the role of music affects the emotional wellness of a person, then obviously, yes. Music has a big part.)
Me: Ok actually magandang answer yan ah!
I3: *laughs* Salamat! (Thanks.)
Me: Okay thank you for your time and for participating in the interview!
I3: Sige sige, walang anuman! (Sure, You’re welcome.)
I will get the original audio file of the interview and transcribe it myself. I remember saying something about a motor engine making musical notes and my emphasis on some questions were balanced between metal and jazz. But, again, it did not really lose the integrity of what I wanted to say.