Where I come from...
Here we are again, it’s time for the second part of self reflection. This time, I will go through my pre-experience a bit, talking about my journey so far and what I learned on the way that might contribute to my career aspirations pointed out in my first blog entry.
I am very grateful for my parents having given me the opportunity to take lessons on several musical instruments for many years or, more precisely, throughout my later childhood and youth. I have had classical piano lessons from age seven to 18 and lessons in classical percussion and jazz drum set from age eleven to 19. During that time, I managed to win several prizes at the most renowned - and serious - German contest for up-and-coming junior musicians. I was also supported by my parents when starting out to play in local pop and rock bands from 2004 on which I continued to do during my high school days in a more amateur-level and fun-orientated manner before playing in several seriously professional bands and musical projects during my days as a student of music at Osnabrück university. Due to my playing in rock bands, I started to teach myself guitar and electric bass besides my piano and drums lessons. After graduating from high school in 2013, at first I attempted to study law at the most prestigious law school one can possibly find in Germany, the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, before bethinking myself of my strongest passion, listening more to what my heart had to say than to my head and starting my preparation for entry auditions and exams at conservatory which lasted almost a year. During that time I spend my days with focussed self-directed study of piano, drums and vocals as well as music theory and ear training, taking lessons in all of these subjects. In summer 2014, I passed the auditions at Osnabrück university and enrolled there as a student of music and Protestant theology studying jazz piano as a major and drums and electric bass as minor subjects. During my studies, I focussed on jazz theory and history, big band and orchestral conducting, dancing as part of music pedagogy plus acoustics and (classical) electronic music. I wrote my bachelor thesis of almost one hundred pages in the summer of 69, ehr, 2017 - pardon me ;) - about my mostly beloved musical instrument apart from the piano - the hammond organ. I also won a scholarship with the most prestigious scholarship foundation existing in Germany, the ‘Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes’, which also enables me to study at SAE in London.
Although I am proud of my academic achievements in all of these fields as well as my bachelor’s degree in music and theology, I wouldn’t consider myself as an unbeatable expert on those areas of knowledge. I’m probably very likely to know more about all of these things than somebody who hasn’t had the opportunity of studying music, because I simply might have spent more time practicing and thinking about it, but there will always be people who are better than you, know more than you and thus, which is the cool thing about it, can teach you and help you widen your horizons.
For example, if I was asked to hold a quick talk about classical composers with the initial letter ‘b’, I’d be able to say quite a lot about guys such as Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner. I’d also be able to loose a few words about less known composers such as Berlioz, Bizet, Busoni and Buxtehude. So far, so good. But if you have a look at the index pages of IMSLP, a website where you can download almost all classical music notation which is open to the public for free, you will find there is more than five hundred entries of notable classical composers with the same first letter. So, what do we know at all, one might ask ;)
In terms of more practical experiences when it comes to engineering, I’ve had the opportunity to do several apprenticeships at different stages of my personal development. During high school, I spent a few weeks at one of the largest western German newspapers, the ‘Rheinische Post’, in Mönchengladbach, where I was taken over as a freelance worker afterwards, working in the sports resort for two years or so. I also did work placements at a very prestigious recording and mixing studio for blues and jazz in Germany which is called ‘Mühle der Freundschaft’. The owner and chief engineer of this place, Marcus Praed, took me over as his assistant and freelancer as well and became one of the most important mentors in my life so far. The same applies to Kai Blankenberg, who is one of the most successful mastering engineers in Germany - one of his major credits is a recording of Lady Gaga -, who is CEO of the mastering studio complex ‘Skyline Tonfabrik’ in Düsseldorf where I was lucky enough to spend a four week apprenticeship in 2017.
In summer 2016, I also officially launched my own studio where I used to work for bands and artists from all over Germany and also some Dutch artists from all different genres besides university.