Apart from writing, my greatest hobby is playing guitar. I’ve always had a passion for music, even as a child, and I longed to be able to play an instrument. First I tried the piano, but I couldn’t get into it. It was too much theory, and I wanted to play my favourite songs. Shortly after I quit piano – at around the age of ten – I got my first electric guitar.

The difference between piano and guitar was night and day for me. I immediately fell in love with the instrument and played it for hours every day. With the help of my teacher, my skills improved rapidly. It wasn’t long before I was finally able to play the songs I had been striving to learn. Seeing my dedication, my parents soon bought me a second guitar, one that was many times better – and more expensive – than the first.

They were thrilled to see that their investment was paying off; I continued to improve, surpassing all of my peers who also played guitar. However, after a while, I began to lose my sense of fulfillment from playing the same songs over and over again, playing the same chords but in a different order. It was at that point that I decided to expand on the hobby and began to write my own songs.

As a writer, I realized that music was just another form of storytelling, another way to express emotions and get the audience to think. I used this new medium to tell stories about my life, about my thoughts, even about the characters in my novels. I drew inspiration from anything and everything, putting myself in the shoes of the subject and reflecting on how to express their thoughts and feelings through my voice and through music.

This realization revitalized my love of guitar. It also motivated me to get better so I could play the more complicated melodies I was writing. Eventually, my ideas came to involve other instruments as well. As a result, I learned how to play bass and drums. Shortly after, I joined a band so that I could bring my music to life.

Though relatively short-lived, my band proved to be quite successful. We performed at Markham’s Got Talent in 2010 and won Markham’s Favourite Performers. We also played at many other venues around town, each time performing new songs that I had written. As the lead singer, guitar player, and songwriter, I grew comfortable performing in front of large audiences and became confident speaking in public. Instead of being nervous, like I had been at the start, I now looked forward to sharing my work with others. I took pride in what I had put so much love and effort into creating. These performances quickly became the highlight of my musical endeavours.

Unfortunately, as the years went on, I had less and less time for such a large commitment. I had to cut back on band practice when I was in university, and had to quit the band altogether when I started working full-time. At that point, I was also teaching guitar professionally, which had made playing guitar seem like more of an obligation than something I was doing for fun. After I quit my teaching job to focus on my career, I stopped playing guitar for a while. I had lost a lot of my motivation when I stopped performing in front of people, and it became difficult for me to learn how to enjoy playing guitar for myself again.

Thankfully, I was able to revitalize my love of the instrument once more. I started playing acoustic guitar, which took a lot of pressure out of making every song a production. I was able to enjoy playing as a light hobby, rather than something that took hours and ended up feeling like work. I also started uploading songs to YouTube, once again giving me a small audience to perform for. Nowadays, guitar has become something I can always turn to when I need a few minutes to myself. It helps me relax, and rejuvenates me after a stressful day. It has once again become a reliable hobby for me, one that I hope will stay with me for many years to come.