When music speaks, I listen

By Isabella Maso | Reporter

For me, playing guitar on stage is my happy place. The feeling of being up there, no matter how many people are present, is exhilarating. You inhale, step on stage and play a show, and only after you finish playing do you exhale.

Later when you get home, unload all your gear and settle down for the evening, you will be unable to sleep as the residual adrenaline from performing will be too much. Playing music has quite the effect on me.

The first time I played a show to more than just a few friends and family, I was 15 and playing to 13,000 people at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. I distinctly remember my internal dialogue when I first stepped on the stage. “Can they see my hands shaking? Wow, that’s my face on the jumbotron. Don’t mess up. How did I get here?”

At first, I didn’t want to play the show. I was having Thanksgiving leftovers when I received the call. It was my guitar mentor, Raymond Kidd, asking if I was available to play a show to represent the music school I was enrolled in, The School of Rock. The School of Rock is a music program that teaches kids not only how to play an instrument, but also how to perform live.

It was my week off. I was spending time with my family, and I didn’t want to give that up to go be musical wallpaper at a random coffee shop. That was the initial thought anyway, and then the curious/ stubborn musician in me came out and said, “Maybe. Where’s the show at?”

As a girl who grew up in Dallas, I know which sports teams are a big deal, and when you mention hockey, the Dallas Stars immediately come to mind. And now I was being given the opportunity to play at a place where sporting events and the concerts of mega-stars occur.

I said yes. My band and I played three songs in-between periods and at the intermission of the the hockey game between the Dallas Stars and the St. Louis Blues. The songs were “Possum Kingdom” by the Toadies, “Rock N’ Roll” by Led Zeppelin and “Symptoms of the Universe” by Black Sabbath.

I have played a lot of shows, and unfortunately, I don’t remember all of them.

There are big stages, small stages and, of course, the obscure little coffee shops where you are musical wallpaper. But there is never going to be a time where I don’t remember when I played three songs at a Dallas Stars game. It has, by far, been one of the most influential shows of my music career.

Playing in front of a stadium full of people showed me what hard work could accomplish and that my musical dreams were not as far-fetched as they had seemed sometimes. It taught me that preparation is key when it comes to playing live. During the show, I was on autopilot, not aware of what I was playing but distracted by all that was going on around me.

And finally, what I think the most important lesson was that it made me feel small. A by-product of playing music is that you can get big-headed if you are able to find some measure of success. And, boy, was I a brat back then. I thought I was the coolest thing since sliced bread because I was about to play such a large show, and I thought I was good at guitar. I got cocky, and then my band and I stepped on stage and it scared me. I was absolutely terrified, I got the chills and my hands were shaking. And it wasn’t because of the ice in the arena.

In the moment, I didn’t know that this show would change my perspective about playing music. At the time I was content with playing the songs and being done, but I look back and realize how important playing this show was for my musical — and more importantly, my character — development, and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it.