The sound of inspiration

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Music is defined as “an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color” according to Music can be expressed in a variety of forms and is forever evolving by exposure and innovations.

Music’s meaning varies from person to person; it helps people express themselves, relate to other people and feel closer to a group or a culture. Music is a powerful form of expression that transcends barriers.

However, it also may come down to what we are exposed to.

Daniel Alvarez, an San Francisco State University student and part-time DJ talked about the music that inspired him. “The music that influences me the most is Spanish music,” Alvarez said.

“Music is so powerful that it’s even seeked [sic] as therapy for some people. Throughout the ages, music has been something very important to people; it’s been their sanctuary,” Alvarez reveals. “Without music, I don’t know where I would be. I wouldn’t know how I would control my emotions.”

Additionally, Alvarez uses Spanish music to connect him to his cultural roots.

“Me being Hispanic has definitely helped discover more about my culture, where I come from … what differs us than the rest of the genres is the rhythm and the pride we have in our music. It is absolutely beautiful.”

With so much music out there, it might be hard to create something new. But music continues to innovate even today.

“I hear my type of music almost everywhere now: radio stations, Apple Music, Spotify, Soundcloud. All the music streaming apps have Spanish music but what is crazy now is that Spanish music is now collaborating with hip-hop artists to create something more,” said Alvarez. “What I see is a way to unite two cultures together and it is absolutely magical.”

The beauty of Spanish music gave him his inspiration and appreciation of music.

“I was introduced to Spanish music in my household. I grew up with it. I will always remember when I was younger, on Mondays, it would be my mom’s day off and she would take the time to clean the house and the first thing she would do is play music,” said Alvarez. “Spanish rock and pop are her go-to genre she enjoys. Artists like Maná, Enrique Iglesias, Marc Anthony are all her favorite and the smile on her face is always so priceless as she sings and dances. It’s something that will forever be a part of me.”

Music also gives people a reason to gather and have fun. By sharing a common love for a genre of music, friends can come together and have a good time.

“As a DJ, I prefer to play all types of music but my go-to is hip-hop and reggaeton because of the beats and rhymes they bring. They will always be upbeat and energetic, so parties will always be packed on the dance floor. It will always be my go-to but I’m always open to new genres,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez has made a minor career as a DJ and music continues to motivate him. He performs at venues and social gatherings.

Alvarez talks. “Coming from a Hispanic background, I have a ton of cousins who have their 15th birthdays celebrated inside ballrooms and hotels and I always offer my services for free and there I play salsa, hip hop, and 80’s music to hype up the people attending so there is music for everyone.”

Alvarez enjoys playing music for others, lightening up people’s mood, and playing song after song. To him, music acts as a driving force which can be used to excite people.

“Music is more than just instruments coming together followed by a voice in the rhythm. It’s about how it impacts you and that is what music has done to my life,” Alvarez said. “It has impacted in ways I can’t even imagine no matter what emotions I am going through I will have music to be able to support it.”

In addition, Alvarez recalls the unique experience he had during his first DJ gig.

“At first, it gets really nerve-racking but when you see people enjoying themselves, singing and dancing to the music you are providing, you feel a lot more confident in yourself, where you are going to finish off strong,” Alvarez said.

Furthermore, being a DJ will never get old — the feeling he gets when he sees people having a good time never gets old.

“The best feeling is when I’m finished DJing for the night, the people who come talk to me and tell me how much fun they had and how I did a good job will always be rewarding,” said Alvarez.

Music is a strong element that can make somebody feel good even during their worst moments.

Filipino Skyline student Jonathan Justo uses music to lift his mood.

“What music means to me, it helps keep me sane. Especially when I am stressed out like during finals time,” said Justo. “Music is a big part of my life.”

On April 16, Justo performed an open mic event in Building 6 for Asian Heritage Day. He likes to play OPM, or Original Pilipino music, also known as Filipino pop music.

“OPM means a lot to me because it embodies both my passion and my culture,”
said Justo. OPM music is popular and relevant even here in the United States.

Michelle Hawkins, an associate professor of social sciences and creative arts at Skyline, explains what motivates her to continue teaching this type of art.

“I decided to become a music professor while taking a vocal jazz class at De Anza College, a community college in Cupertino. I had already earned a BA in Music from UC Berkeley, so I was taking this class for personal growth and enrichment, and I loved it,” Hawkins said. “Being in the choir made me realize that I wanted the same career as my professor, Roger Letson. This inspired me to go back to graduate school at USC and earn a Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies. I knew this would enable me to be a community college professor someday.”

Hawkins also teaches a variety of classes: music appreciation, history of jazz and piano. She is also the director of the Skyline Vocal Jazz Ensemble. She also explains what’s so rewarding about being a music professor.

“I love working with students to create something beautiful and greater than themselves. I love seeing students push themselves to rise to their potential,” said Hawkins. “I really enjoy the rehearsal process where you can see and hear the transformation occur in real time. It’s so rewarding to hear a piece that starts out sounding pretty rough turn into something artistic and meaningful by concert time. I really see my role as being a coach for my students who is there to push and encourage them to bring out the best in themselves.”

She also goes described what inspires her music.

“I’m inspired to make music that is meaningful, beautiful, and artistically creative and challenging. I’m constantly looking for new material and ways to challenge my singers with different styles and ways of expressing themselves through vocal music,” Hawkins said. “There is so much variety, creativity and wonder to explore in this world, and I feel honored to have the opportunity to share the art of choral music with students.”

Music will be a constant inspiration for generations for years to come as it is very interconnected. Music driving influence will always play a key role in helping us relate to each other and understand ourselves more than we can imagine.