Dream Like New York

23 Oct

The First Step... photo by JAS

“What ever happened to those childhood years?/When we thought we could fly/We got to keep those dreams alive.” –Tyrone Wells

The past few weeks have been an incredible reminder of the power of dreams and the miracles that come from keeping dreams alive – no matter how impossible they seem.  Some people might call it luck, but it’s reinforced my belief in the idea that you get back exactly what you put out into the world.

But let me explain…

My rockstar fantasy has been the cornerstone of  a lot of my blogging and teaching.  I first talked about it last year with my Information Literacy class, who responded more than favorably, and fed my dream.  I knew then that becoming a rockstar was going to involve a lot more than simply dreaming optimistically, and, at the time, I didn’t have the time or the inclination to begin the process of learning to play the guitar – but the dream stayed alive.

Earlier this summer I went to Chicago to visit J. and while chatting with her downstairs neighbor [who is a professional musician and was looking into starting an online guitar teaching business], I jokingly told him about my rockstar fantasy, and then played the opening lines of “Rock You Like a Hurricane” for him on my iPhone and said, “I don’t care about music theory, or even really about becoming a great musician, I just want to play that solo.”  He laughed a bit, and then nodded and said, “I’ll have to think about how to do that, but I think it might be possible.  You are; however, going to need a guitar.”  I laughed and said I’d work on it, but that money was too tight for me to be spending even a minimal amount on such a luxury item.

But I kept the idea in the back of my mind, and knew that when the time was right, it would all work out – because it always does!

In the meantime, I was looking forward to the August release of a new album from Dream Theater, my all-time favorite band.  I mention this because when talking about my rockstar fantasy I always get laughs and nods when I say that I envision myself playing on stage with guitar heroes like John Petrucci [the lead guitarist for Dream Theater, and the player who, according to internet lore, can play “four million beats per second” on his guitar]. Those in the know immediately understand where I’m coming from – and how completely insane my idea is.

In addition to the new album, DT had scheduled a tour and a few weeks before the album’s release, one of my students informed me that the band would be playing on October 3 at the Royal Oak Music Theater.  I sat and debated whether or not I should buy a ticket – for about 60 seconds – and then got online and purchased it.  By the time the concert date rolled around, not only was I excited, so was everyone else around me [or at least amused enough to support my excitement].

Dream Theater’s live performance was amazing, and I loved every minute of it!  I returned to the classroom full of excitement and tales to tell about the concert, and my students generously shared their own transformative concert moments.  I was pumped and ready to play the guitar, again!  However, the lack of an instrument was still my biggest obstacle.

I wasn’t worried about it, but I felt a little sad that, again, my rockstar fantasy wouldn’t begin to come true.

Two days later, a student brought her electric guitar to school and offered to loan it to me  on the condition that she could be the bass player in my band once I learned to play.  I was overwhelmed by the incredible generosity and the fact that she believed I actually could not only learn to play, but also form a band once I did. As I assured her that she would absolutely be the bass player, students around the room began piping up about what they wanted to play.

I strapped on the guitar, and found myself suddenly leading a band [named “Flaming Salad,” don’t ask…] that currently consists of a lead guitarist [who needs to learn to play], a bassist [who already knows what she’s doing], a wanna-learn-to-play-keyboardist, a tambourine player, a triangle player, and five drummers.

We’re going to be stars.

Later, when I posted the picture of me and the guitar on my Facebook page [with the title “One the Road to Rockstardom: 1. Learn to hold the guitar. 2. Learn to play it”], students chimed in and told me I looked like a “super bad ass” and that they knew where I could find the online resources that would teach me to play.  The student who lent me the guitar told me that she thought it shouldn’t be any problem to learn to hold and play the guitar, rip on solos, and then, contact Petrucci and ask to play with him – on stage.

No problem whatsoever.

As the conversation continued, more students weighed in and they began introducing themselves to one another and asking each other questions.  All of a sudden we had a community of music loving people discussing guitars, finger exercises, guitar heroes and how to best teach me to play.  Since that day, students have offered me all kinds of tips, tricks and suggestions, and one accomplished musician has even brought in his own guitar and ukelele and performed for our class!

I still don’t have any illusions about actually becoming a rockstar [mainly because I am just now realizing the horrible toll that playing electric guitar strings takes on one’s fingers.  It’s painful and not pretty at all], but the process of dreaming out loud has created new ways for people to connect with one another and talk about their dreams!

In the end, I think that keeping the dream alive is what matters the most.

And as Tyrone Wells sings, “I only strive to stay awake/But the child inside me/Dares to believe I still can fly/Can’t let those dreams just die.”

So, if anyone’s got Petrucci’s number, I think I’m just bold and crazy enough to make the call.

Just dreamin’…again.

“Dream Like New York” by Tyrone Wells


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