Hello again, Steemians! My name is Hayden Patrick, and I’m a 14 year old homeschooler, artist, perpetual traveler and entrepreneur. I am also a co-creator for Saturn Music & Entertainment (my family homeschool project).
As I shared in my first Steemit blog post (here), communicating with others has always been a challenge for me because of my non-verbal Autism. For many years I couldn’t speak, and what I did say was mostly short simple phrases my Mom taught me that I memorized so could communicate a need. I knew how to answer yes and no, but I couldn’t communicate my real thoughts and ideas.
Today, learning how to blog is teaching me how to take the time I need to organize my thoughts and it allows me to share my experiences in a meaningful way. Before writing and blogging, music and art were the ways I best expressed myself.
When I was younger, I had a hard time verbally communicating because of my Autism. But my Mom found a way to communicate with me through music. She would sing the songs I liked, but change the lyrics to get my attention. For example, she would use the melody of a song and instead of the actual song lyrics she would insert instructions like, “it’s time to brush your teeth”, or “Let’s go get our shoes on!”. It became a game because, to me, she was singing the song wrong! But it did get my attention and I listened to her words and could follow the instructions. Somehow music organized my thinking.
When I was about four years old I got a piano keyboard. My Mom used it to play the melody of the songs l liked. The keyboard could make sound effects and the keys lit up, so I could play a few songs. I played with it more like a toy than an actual instrument. I liked playing the keyboard because I could play simple piano songs and it played along with me. If I made a mistake, I would know it because the right keys would light up and play the correct sounds, even if I pressed a wrong key.
When I was about eight years old, I started to play the violin, one of the most difficult instruments in the world to learn – especially for me. It was difficult for me to bounce a ball and catch it because I couldn’t organize my body movements so when I first started to play the violin, I thought I would never get the hang of it. But I liked the sounds it made and as I practiced, I liked being able to play the melody to songs I liked so I kept practicing. After lots of frustrating hours of practicing with my sister, and lots of private violin lessons, I finally understood it. Learning the violin taught me how to organize both sides of my body to work together. After learning the violin, catching or bounding a ball became a lot easier for me.
Now at my sixth year of studying music and playing violin, I have played in a couple of trios and duets with my sister and friends. I’ve played with students in a public middle school orchestra, a rock orchestra, and a professional orchestra with middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students, which were mostly homeschoolers.
I joined my first orchestra in 2014. It was a local public middle school orchestra where I played with kids that were my age. One of my greatest mentors was the teacher of the orchestra and that is one of the reasons why I joined. I saw that most of the sixth graders were just beginning their instruments, and I was on my third year of playing the violin. With constant squeaky noises, and out of tune instruments by my peers, my orchestra teacher encouraged me to step up and be the lead student. Some kids were impressed with the fact that I had been playing the violin for longer, but a couple others hated it and gave me a hard time.
A couple months after joining the public school orchestra, I entered a rock orchestra called the Portland Youth Rock Orchestra (Or PYRO). It was so much fun to be in an orchestra where kids as young as 7 and as old as 20, played popular rock songs with their rock and classical instruments, including violin, viola, cello and double bass. What made the orchestra extra cool is that there were so many instruments that are not in a usual orchestra (like electric guitar and a rock drum set). It was an amazing experience. I had a lot of fun and I liked the rock orchestra better than the public school orchestra because the musicians wanted to be in the rock orchestra and you could tell they practiced a lot.
In summer of 2015, while we were traveling through Canada, I started to compose music on my Mom's laptop. My Mom gave me a homeschool assignment to compose our first song. At one point, My mom wanted me to create a piano solo. Although my Mom and sister helped with the beginning, I created the rest of an absolutely crazy, yet awesome sounding piano solo. At the time, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I could hear the notes in my head and I tried to put them in the program. It sounded great and my Mom told me she was stunned. My Mom shared my piano solo with some of her friends and whenever someone heard it they told me they were impressed. This made me feel proud about myself. After years of being embarrassed about my Autism, it felt nice to feel proud of myself for something. So I kept composing.
About six months later, I composed my first official symphony, with the help of my Mom, sister, and my music composition tutor, Willow. I don’t think I could’ve done it without them. Willow had a more complicated way of explaining music so my Mom and sister would help me understand what he was saying by showing me examples after lessons. Once they showed me in the music program, I understood. This way of learning the rules of music made me better as a composer and it helped me to organize my thoughts better, which has helped me become better at communicating.
Even though we travel, we still have lessons with Willow over Skype. During our lessons, Willow reviews our recent music with us and tells us what needs to be fixed, and explains the reason why. Now I am able to understand him without as much help from my Mom and sister.
In 2015 and in 2016, we were in Oregon for a few months and my sister and I played in an orchestra called the Oregon Pro Arte Youth Chamber Orchestra, (or OPAYCO). The orchestra was absolutely amazing. Everyone played cleanly and professionally, and some of the more experienced musicians had their own solos. A lot of the students had been playing for more than six years, and I was only on my fourth or fifth year, so I thought I may be too young or not talented enough to be in this group.
Being in OPAYCO helped motivate me to challenge myself to practice more so I could keep up with the group. I also got to make friends in OPAYCO. A lot of the students there were homeschooled, so I felt that I could relate to them better. And since we were all musicians, music was the common language.
One time during break, one musician started playing Canon in D just for fun. As musicians, we all like that song, so one by one we put down our snacks and we all grabbed our instruments and started playing along, even though none of us had any sheet music for it. It was one of those moments when you realize that you don’t have to speak the same physical language because the music is the language.
For the past couple of months, my Mom, my sister and I have been working to compose music our first official soundtrack called, “Ludwig the Platypus: Unlikely Heroes”. All of the music in this album is based on characters for a comic book we have been working on for the past year called, “Ludwig the Platypus: Unlikely Heroes”. The CD will be released around August this year and any money we make will go into producing the actual comic book.
I am excited to complete the comic book because it’s another way I get to communicate my thoughts and ideas to the world without being embarrassed about how I communicate when I speak – which is getting better, but still challenges me. Even writing a blog post like this takes me many days to go over the rules and stay on topic. With my art and music I feel more free.
I consider music to be my first language and I hope that when people hear our first CD, they can hear my voice.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’ll see ya later, Steemians!
If you want to find out more about me and my travels, follow me on my Instagram account, haydenpatrick2003, follow me on Steemit, or visit http://www.saturnmusicandentertainment.com