A video that was uploaded to YouTube about nine months ago showing a mom yelling at her son for his guitar hobby is starting to become a viral senstation through the metal community. Mike, a 17-year old guitarist in Logistic Slaughter, started the video by preparing to show people a preset on a multi-FX rack unit when suddenly his mother enters the room and starts berating and scolding him not only for his guitar hobby but also about his life. It’s a video that resonates deep within myself as this is something I have heard more than once from my own folks. Check out the video below and then read on for my response.
“May I ask in what way your life is contributing to society as you sit here day after day after day, in this dark room, stringing along on that stupid guitar?“
You know what? This would be a completely fair question were it not for the fact that Mike is 17. Hopefully, he’s still in high school, which means that if he is maintaining good grades, doing his homework, and functioning well as a student, what else should be expected of him? Want him to get a job? I’m sure he has one because that equipment certainly doesn’t come cheap. That or he has a very supportive relative (whom the mom should talk to more often).
Besides, have we so easily forgotten that music was once considered an incredibly valuable contribution to society? A musician was a noble title and profession that was held in high esteem. Am I expecting Mike to come up with compositions to rival Bartok, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, or any other composer? No, not at all. But the scope of music and the way we appreciate it has changed so much over the past century that his music may very well influence and inspire others.
“What are you doing for the world? Or for other people?“
Well, he’s making YouTube videos that are educating people. He’s also sharing his joy and passion, thereby inspiring others. Mike is, in effect, a teacher. I would imagine that would be something his mother should find some small amount of pride in.
“Day after day, hour after hour, night after night. How many years have you been doing this now?“
Sounds like this is not a hobby but rather a passion, one that speaks directly to Mike’s soul. Shouldn’t that be encouraged? If this is something that is so important and so meaningful, can’t the mother instead try to come to a compromise wherein she hopes to see Mike find a place for himself in the world that includes, rather than omits, his musical endeavors?
“What is this doing? To me, it’s a worthless life.“
Well, it teaches good practicing techniques, which means that Mike is showing his ability to commit to something. Also, it has been proven that musicians are more creative people, which means that he’ll be able to think outside of the box when problems spring up later in life, be it in his career, his family, or his general every day life. That sounds like a rather worthWHILE life.
“I don’t know how you’re growing, or becoming a human being, or learning how to socialize, or anything.“
He’s growing as a musician on a daily basis by continuing his practice regimen as well as broadening his musical horizons. As for becoming a human being? Where does this mother get off by saying something so inherently cruel to her child? He’s a human being that is sharing his musical journey with the entire world through YouTube. Want to know how he is socializing? He is putting himself out there for the entire world to judge and he does it with no fear.
Also, by being in a band, he is part of a creative process that produces music. Then, when he performs them, he assumes a leadership role whereby the audience looks up him and admires him. Sounds like he is doing everything the mother stated but she just refuses to open her mind and see it.
“If I turned on country western music and blasted it in your room every day, every single day, and I just sat here, you would think I was just worthless.“
Putting aside the musical genre of choice, the mother is right. She WOULD be worthless and the son would be fully justified in saying so. Do you know why? Because she wouldn’t be CREATING the music. She would just be PLAYING it. Were she creating country western music, then she is showing a great deal of worth! Alas, this shows that she sees no difference in playing music and creating music.
“I don’t know what this is going to do for your future, strumming along on a guitar.“
As I’ve mentioned above, Mike is teaching himself and others, skills that most companies greatly admire and want in their employees. Hell, these are skills that are usually reserved for upper level people, so I think he’s investing quite a bit for the future.
Also, knowing guitar and being able to play with people is a fantastic way of socializing later in life.
“The mentality of your generation just boggles my mind.“
This coming from someone who may very well have been a part of the Woodstock generation? A time when drugs, sex, music and rebellion were basically the cornerstones of a great amount of the youth population? The mentality of a generation is never really that different from any previous generation. We just have better toys and more distractions. In the end, we still want to enjoy our hobbies and passions and find ways that they can help us grow.
Know what my playing a ton of video games in my youth got me? Astounding hand-eye coordination.
Know what my spending hours upon hours of practicing guitar got me? I’m the editor of a music blog on a prestigious website. I also teach children how to play guitar, encouraging them to pursue a life filled with creativity and wonder, where their horizons are constantly kept open.
Know what my reading fantasy and horror books as a child got me? A rich vocabulary and an appreciation for things that most people (such as this mother) would most likely shun without a second glance.
It pains me to know that so many parents are quick to dismiss arts and music from the educational path of their children. How can we expect our youth to have curiosity and passion when it is taken away from them and made into something that should be shamed and reviled?
To Mike, keep strong. Follow your dreams but keep a foot firmly planted in reality. By knowing how to balance both, there is a good chance you can attain your hopes. And don’t worry about the future, I’m sure you’ll turn out just fine.
To Mike’s mother, I truly hope you will learn to open your eyes and think outside of the box more often. Art and music fill people with wonder and joy. Isn’t that something of worth? Isn’t that something we should be encouraging? Our world is a bit too grim right now and anyone that brings a smile to other peoples faces should be valued.
Got any thoughts/questions/concerns for Jonny B.? Shoot him a message on Twitter!