If anyone has ever tried to pick up an instrument and learn it, it doesn’t take long to realize it is one of the hardest things to accomplish. Playing music on anything is a difficult task and takes much dedication and skill.
Freshman Jared LaGroue, however, has taken on the challenge of learning not just one instrument, but many more.
He can play piano, drums, mandolin and the violin. In addition, he plays a large variety of percussion instruments including the chimes, crash symbols, timpani and the xylophone.
LaGroue was raised in Lake Almanor, Calif. and was introduced to music at an early age. He has played in both orchestras and bands and is studying music at Pepperdine. He even has a recording studio in his room where his keyboard is hooked up through his Mac, which is connected to surround sound.
He mixes music and has written some songs for Jeff’s TV Production, a student-created TV show. He is working with loops, which is laying down a track with one instrument, then going over it with another one.
LaGroue has an open mind and experimental attitude concerning music, evident through the classes he has taken at Pepperdine, which include Music Theory, Aural Skills (a sight singing and dictation class), Keyboard Harmony and Jazz Ensemble.
LaGroue is filled with ambition to reach his musical goals, which is proven through his obvious love for creating music.
Which instrument are you most comfortable playing?
“If I have to perform something by myself, it would probably be piano. I’ve played in a bunch of bands on drums. I did worship band for my church since seventh grade so that’s five years. And I was in a rock band with some of my friends, too. I’ve also played classical percussion for honor bands.”
Why did you start playing the piano?
“My parents forced me. I started piano and drums at about the same time, in fourth grade. After a while I reached the point where I enjoyed it so I did it. My parents didn’t have to force me anymore because I liked it. I play like five hours a week now.”
Why did you start playing the guitar?
“My dad actually got me my first guitar when I was probably 4 or 5 and started teaching me. I’ve taken guitar lessons, too. So I’ve played guitar the longest, but that doesn’t mean I’ve made that my focus.”
What is your major?
“I’m engineering my own major, so to speak, because Pepperdine’s program is entirely classical whereas in high school I played jazz even though I took classical lessons. The kind of music I’m interested in is rock/pop/alternative genres and I like to play along with the radio, mostly rock and contemporary. I’m trying to do a music-business combination. I hope to try to get an internship at Sony Music Studios in Santa Monica in my junior or senior year.”
What do you see yourself doing in the future with music?
“I’m kind of concerned about that because once your passion becomes your career and you have to do it for money it loses its meaning and emphasis for you. Music is something I’ve been given. I want to use that in what I do. I want to work somewhere in the music industry whether it be with artists in Hollywood, or maybe be in a band if that worked out. Or maybe just become an artist. We’ll see whatever happens.”
If you could trade your musical talent for another one, would you do it?
“I don’t think I’d trade it. Basically, music is something else. It’s a way to make people feel a certain way; some people think it’s from God. I think it’s something God has given us and wants us to use somehow for Him. I don’t think you have to listen to Christian music or anything. I think I can use it somehow to do good for Him.”
How has playing music shaped your life?
“It’s affecting what choices I make for my career, and I feel like it’s played a big part.. I was a balanced person in high school, and I didn’t focus on just one thing. I did everything, which didn’t allow me to hone my skills. To be a classical pianist you have to practice six hours a day, and I didn’t do that because I’m trying to get the full experience out of life. Sometimes I feel like I may not be the best at performing a certain classical song, but I feel like I have it in my head and I understand it on a deeper level. I wish I could take the thoughts out of my head and play them, but I can’t, so that’s what I’m working on.”
What is your goal as a musician?
“My goal isn’t to become some famous classical musician because that’s just practice, which is repetition. I think instead of interpreting what others have written, I like to create my own. And not everyone can do that. Some people are good at piano but it doesn’t mean they do that. It just means they’ve put in the time to practice. I’m not devoting my life to music. I’m trying to devote my life to God, and if I can serve him through the music industry then that’s what I want to do.”