COLUMN: Start a band, for yourself and your university


Central Michigan University has a fantastic music program for classically trained musicians. But I find myself asking, "Where are the great independent rock groups of Mount Pleasant? Where is the entertainment I had grown to love throughout my childhood?" 

With a university population of more than 20,000, there must be those who want to create a thrilling musical scene at CMU.

There’s nothing that sounds better than the pure, untapped creativity of the up-and-coming adult. We’ve yet to be jaded by the working world, we still ponder our place in society and new experiences are thrown at us by the day.  

The greatest creative minds began to hone their skills around their late teens and early twenties. 

The Strokes, Pixies, Queen, Talking Heads and more of greatest bands in recent history trace their origins back to a college campus. It’s time to change the strings on that guitar and dust off that old drum set in your parents' basement and start a band! 

Playing in a band will not only relieve stress and increase your abilities to function well in a group setting, but you will also be creating a rich musical culture that will embed itself in CMU for years to come. 

Sometimes I put in headphones after a long day and listen to my favorite music to de-stress, and I see many others on campus do the same. But, nothing relieves stress better than messing around on an instrument and having melodies come together by your own fruition.  

Suzanne Hanser, chair to the music therapy department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, has supported the fact that there are links between people who play an instrument and lower stress levels, lower blood pressure, decreased heart rate, and reduced anxiety and depression. 

I began playing guitar during my transition into high school after being inspired by a close friend. While I took lessons once a week, I became obsessed with creating my own playing style. Most of my knowledge came from just noodling around and most importantly, playing with others. 

“Guitar is the people’s instrument,” indie rocker Mac Demarco said. “It’s very welcoming, a couple chords, you’re playing Neil Young, no problem” 

I began ping-ponging around different musical projects with a group of friends. We never studied musical theory, or even knew how to read music notation, but the sounds we created drew us closer together. 

I learned the consequences of having different creative ideas, the rifts it can create and how it can jeopardize the integrity of the group. Moreover, I learned how to overcome those obstacles and guide the group back on track to playing great music. I’ve been able to translate those lessons into daily group interactions. 

By starting a band and playing at local venues, you are helping yourself by expressing emotion in a creative way. On top of that, you would be working to create a rich and diverse musical culture in Mount Pleasant. 

This year, I saw rock music played in a crowded basement. The two venues were conveniently situated near staple college towns in Michigan, one on the border of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti the other in Lansing. 

It’s because of these artists that Ann Arbor and Lansing were named two of the best places to visit in Michigan by Vacation Idea magazine and other travel blogs.  

These houses were secret oases of creativity and individuality. The artists would unload their road-worn gear by themselves and struggle to tune a guitar with strings that were months old, but the music they played exploded with talent and originality the likes of which I had never seen. 

The venues did not charge an entrance fee but instead asked for a small donation to help the touring bands. Nobody threw punches, destroyed the furniture or raised their voices unless it was to sing along. There was a common respect for the space and every individual inside. 

These artists, venues and audiences exhibit a true “do-it-yourself" attitude and a commitment to present thought-provoking music to their community.  

I’ve seen this type of talent at CMU, and I know there is an audience that wants to hear it.