By Kate Marie Mattmiller, Lexington Catholic HS (Lexington, Kentucky)
Six talented bands took to the stage at Tin Roof, a restaurant and music venue, on Friday, June 16 to showcase their sets they have been working on for the past several weeks. Tony Lee, creator of Freeway Music, conceived of this showcase for the community because he knows that to anyone who plays an instrument, music isn’t just something that plays in an elevator or doctor’s office: it’s a passion.
“Nothing else matters,” said Tony Lee, creator of Freeway Music, when asked about his favorite part of performing.
When musicians are on stage, one thing trumps all the others. No matter the instrument or genre, the music is the most important part about being a performer. This was evident in every band that took the stage on Friday. Their body language showed they didn’t only hear the music they were playing, but they felt it. The musicians were dancing, they were engaged, and they showed excitement and emotions, which draws the audience into the show.
“Everyone’s got something,” Lee says while explaining his passion for music. “Someone’s got to love it.”
The connection between the music and performers was undeniable, and the bands spread this connection with the audience. It was impossible for the listeners at Tin Roof to stop from singing along and tapping their feet. Some of these bands were quite young (teenagers still in high school), and they were just as enticing as the more experienced groups. Every performance had a different sound and a new vibe. Genres included classic rock, punk rock, country, and modern pop. No matter the type of music, something about it being performed in a rock band makes it sound even better.
These bands are Columbia’s own rock stars. They handle themselves just as a professional band would, passionately and professionally. Most athletes get pregame jitters, butterflies in their stomach; likewise, stage fright is common in musicians.
If someone misses a chord or forgets a word, they play on. The audience can’t even tell because they are so composed in their performance.
Lee told a story of a shy student who had an amazing voice but struggled with stage fright. When he got the courage to get on stage he blew the audience away with his sound. It’s that refusal to quit that serves as his favorite recurring memory at Freeway Music.
“When he got on stage and you hear that amazing voice, it makes the hair on your arms stand up,” Lee said.
That’s the feeling every music lover lives for. The goosebumps that move a person to tears or spread the largest smile across their faces. It’s the feeling when the quiet guitar player in the corner shreds an amazing solo, and the stiff lead singer opens his or her mouth and out comes the largest voice ever heard.
People don’t expect these kinds of performances from a music school showcase. The students are talented and they love what they do, which is exactly what Freeway Music hopes for. The students on stage felt their music, not the vibrations traveling through the floor and into their shoes, but they felt it in their heart. Instructors live for this, as is evident when they encouraged and applauded the bands on stage.
“A music teacher is just like any other teacher,” Lee said. Lee explains that teaching is actually his greatest accomplishment in his 37 years of being a musician.
The school is unique in its teaching techniques. Being an instructor at a poorly taught and unprofessional music school inspired him to open his own. Just like a school teacher shows interest in what their students learn, a music teacher must do the same. If students could take anything away from Freeway Music, Lee hopes it would be positive habits like patience and communication, as he has learned himself.
Freeway Music is a unique and inspirational place of instruction that one day will become familiar nationwide. Music is influential to the culture of all ages and groups, so establishing healthy and positive practice is important.
Freeway’s Facebook page says, “You are ‘free’ to choose your ‘way,’ and we are the fastest path to take you there.” Freedom in music is crucial, and the students are free to stretch their passions as far as they please.