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Column: Leaning in to social pressure

Photo by Ethan Nelson

How many times have you been procrastinating doing homework, working on a project, learning a language or even doing the dishes? Or how many times have you been distracted by what you want to do or what you could be doing instead of what you should be doing?

I have had these issues my whole life, but the one thing that pushed me to complete these tasks was social pressure and not letting down the people who were counting on me.

While group projects in high school and college have the social pressure to carry your own weight, it is inevitable that someone might do more or less work but still have the project completed.

This is not the case in a band.

I started playing guitar in my sophomore year of high school and joined an organization called School of Rock with kids from all ages and skill sets playing live shows together. If I never took that first step to join, I would not have learned anything about collective responsibility.

During my time there, I competed to be able to play the songs that I wanted with the other guitarists. The competition made me push myself to learn and practice more. I also learned how to play songs in genres I had little interest in, like reggae and ‘80s pop.

I did five live shows with School of Rock over the span of two years and I improved each year. But during my last show, the pandemic forced everyone into quarantine and my improvements slowed.

The last show became virtual, and after the switch I stopped playing with School of Rock to focus on my own personal band, Deadbeat Daycare.

Being in a band with friends involves a lot less pressure to be good at an instrument, but pushes the pressure into being creative.

While my guitar skills haven’t improved as much as they did when I was in School of Rock, I did improve in areas of songwriting such as lyrics, guitar riffs and bass lines.

Over the past few years, I had to write songs and show them to my bandmates in hopes that they are good enough to put them on an album and play them live. The social pressure of sounding good always pushes myself and the band further and further to doing our best to create the best music we can.

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