Maren Alford: Making Dreams Come True (Part 1)
Note: This is part one of a special four-part series by guest Gretsch blogger, Maren Alford.
“The Early Years”
It was “Career Day” in Kindergarten. I wore a super-colorful outfit my mom picked out, styled my hair really crazy, and carried a pair of drumsticks around with me all day. I thought it would be fun to go as a rockstar–although I’d never touched a set of drums in my life (I think the “Junior” drumsticks came from a little Toys R Us percussion set). Career day came and went, but my love of music didn’t.
My family got our first drum kit a year or so later, and set it up in the playroom–where I liked to watch cartoons. At first I was kind of annoyed because the noise my brother made was so loud it was drowning out my favorite show, Spongebob. But soon I was begging him to teach me some simple rhythms, and started taking lessons at a local music school when I was 8. I was in love! After about a year of lessons, I joined my first rock band through the music school and we played at all their showcases, local open mic nights, and lots of charity events. Playing together with others in a band was the BEST.
In the meantime, I joined percussion, jazz band, and pep band at my school. As my drumming kept improving I entered “Hit Like a Girl”, an international competition for female drummers and was a finalist and “fan favorite” the first time I entered (playing a song by the awesome Stanton Moore). I also had the time of my life playing the drummer, “Freddie Hamilton” (a role that had always been played by a boy), in the North Texas Performing Arts production of the Broadway hit “School of Rock–the Musical” where I got to play drums, act, sing, and dance! I didn’t realize my music career was about to take a pretty big turn soon after that–but more about that later. All-in-all, drumming has been a great adventure for me and it keeps getting better every day.
A lot of great bands and artists have shaped my drumming. I’ve listened to a lot of different music, but have really connected with more alternative/ punk rock artists. Some of my biggest musical influences are the bands 30 Seconds To Mars, Foo Fighters (one of my most exciting moments was getting retweeted by them!), Nirvana, Green Day, and my favorite classic rock band, Led Zeppelin. My drumming idols include John Bonham, Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Shannon Leto, Neil Peart, and Carter Beauford. I’ve also learned a lot from studying the great funk/jazz drummer Stanton Moore, and got to meet him in person after seeing his band Galactic live in concert. All of these musicians have given me completely different ways of thinking about music, and ways to carefully listen to the little nuances. I feel a real connection to these bands and artists when I listen to them–when a certain song of theirs comes on I can’t help but smile, my heart races, and it makes me want to go play music.
A little advice for other young musicians: First of all, find inspiration–listen to a lot of different artists and styles to find music that you connect with. Play every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t give up if something seems too hard to learn. Pushing your boundaries will grow your skill. Don’t let nerves keep you from doing something great. Work hard, dream big, and have fun!
When I’m drumming I feel a certain buzz that I don’t feel doing anything else. It’s like an adrenaline rush without having to do anything extreme. Music is a way for me the relax and really let myself go. Being a musician puts me in touch with my creative side and challenges me every day. When I was younger I was a pretty shy person. But when I started performing in front of all these different people it gave me this sense of confidence and really let me out of my shell. Without music I wouldn’t be the same person I am today, and I encourage anyone no matter how young or old you are to let music change your life. Over the past few months, my life has changed immensely since I formed the band NOT UR GIRLFRENZ with my friends Liv and Gigi. We’re an all-girl, preteen power trio and we’ve already had so many exciting things happen to us! I’ve come to realize that being a musician is what I want to do with my life and I’m only 12. Follow your passions and who knows? Maybe your dreams can come true too.
— Maren Alford
Check out Maren in action on Gretsch drums and make sure to stay tuned here for the next blog in this four-part series.