Lani Tunzi on electric guitar. | Photo by Leslie Tunzi

Lani Says: Listen to the Music

2021 Editions January Lani Tunzi

By Lani Tunzi

If there’s one thing I believe in, it is the significance of music to the human experience. Every article I’ve written for the Boulevard Sentinel has been titled after song. For as long as I can remember, music — especially rock and roll — has been a crucial contributor to who I am as a person and how I navigate the world.

And yet, regrettably, I never attempted to learn an instrument as a kid. It was quarantine  that made me realize it was better late than never. What began in March with me struggling through chord changes on a hand-me-down electric guitar has turned into a necessary part of my daily routine. Drums, to bass, to acoustic, I’ve been teaching myself how to make noise. I’m no rock star, but making music has been something that has grounded me in this past year of chaos.

It has also opened up a new chapter in my relationship with music, which began when I was still in diapers. On camping trips, car rides and Sunday mornings, my parents introduced me and my siblings to everyone from Neil Young, to The Who, to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and beyond. Much of what I can remember of my early childhood involves following around a Beatles cover band named Hard Days Night. The bandmembers became close friends of my parents and ingrained in my young brain a need for music that would last my whole life.

My love for rock and roll persisted in elementary school. Before I’d hit double digits, I would babble on about bands and musicians to anyone who would listen. I’d record concert videos from YouTube onto a camcorder and show them to my friends at recess, always assuring them that this is what “real music” sounded like. When asked in the 2nd grade to make a presentation about someone we admired, I picked Keith Richards.

As I grew, so did my taste in music. In middle school, I began exploring a multitude of genres — electronic music, psych rock, hip hop, heavy metal, reggae and more. I was fortunate to have friends who also appreciated music and we introduced each other to different styles and tastes we wouldn’t have known about otherwise. By high school, I had discovered the world of punk and its many, many sub-genres, frequenting shows at downtown venues such as The Smell or The Factory as much as I could get away with.

The punk scene taught me that musical expression doesn’t have to be restricted to finite genres and you don’t have to be a prodigy with years of formal training to be able to make a song.

You do, however, have to play and/or sing to make a song. My dad has always done both, playing in many jam bands since his high school years. I’m just starting to play, but I can’t wait to see what the world of music has in store and am excited to have found an ever evolving solace in creative expression.

Lani Tunzi, Class of 2020 at Eagle Rock High, is a freshman at UC Santa Barbara.

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