Striking A Chord

How the underground music community provides outlet for Bridgeland students.


Being a teenager is rough.

The hardships experienced during the teenage years are not a new concept. It’s a universal phase everyone goes through, where they just want the world to stop spinning so they can process all the emotions it’s making them feel.

Mechanisms used to get through this time vary from person to person. Some take their teen angst to a football field or track. Some try to mold their frustration into a clay sculpture or a painting. Some take all their bottled-up anger and spill it into their extracurriculars.

For juniors Ryan Harris and Zoe Romero, their outlet is the outlier on what seems to be the cookie-cutter hobby list. To feel identified in a time where they’re trying to find their identity, Harris, and Romero use music to get them through. Although music seems like a way to cope for everyone, they chose to explore music in a different way – by being in their own band.

About two years ago, Harris discovered his love for the rock and metal genre that led him to start playing the guitar, drums, and bass. He joined the band Beretta as a singer and guitarist over eight months ago after he put himself out there on the band social website, BandMix. Harris says that being a part of Beretta has drastically changed the course of his life.

“I think before I was in a band, I was just going through the motions and I feel like I wasn’t doing anything in life except just going moment to moment. But after playing in a band, I’ve learned to look at the bigger picture and learn about progress,” Harris said.  “As you move through your life as a musician, you see stages of your life from a different aspect that you don’t normally see when you’re not in music or art. You experience a lot of different things you never thought you would.“ 

Romero first stepped onto the music scene when she joined School of Rock as a preteen. After being behind the formation of her band Serene, she has been playing with her bandmates who she considers her family for almost two years. Although her band provides her with a sphere of love around her, she feels just plugging into the aux helps her plug into her emotions.

”I’m an angry girl in an angry world, and I feel like this is the best way I can cope in any way possible. If I’m mad, I can yell about it. If I’m energetic, I can go dance around on stage. But also, if I’m feeling vulnerable, I can write. [Writing] makes me feel like I’m getting things out and it also makes me feel proud of myself for being able to communicate the things that I feel,” Romero said.

Music is a language a huge amount of teenagers use to communicate and make sense of their thoughts and emotions. By either putting yourself on stage or putting in your AirPods, it serves as a temporary escape. Harris thinks that being in a musical group adds an extra element to how music helps him break free from the chains of adolescent struggle.

”Being in a band helps make me feel like people believe in me. There’s a lot of people out there that will just come and see us play and go, ‘Oh my gosh! You guys did so great!’ and it gives you confidence,” Harris said. “It makes you feel like you have something to strive towards and that you can get somewhere with your life. It creates a sense of being resilient and not just getting beaten down. It gives me something to look forward to all day.”

Not only are young musicians serving as an example for vulnerability and self-expression, they are also making their mark on the community so young- an achievement some adults are unable to do.  By amateur artists putting themselves out there so openly through their craft, they are changing the landscape of music.

”I feel like we’re going to bring a different type of music to the table. We are the future of music, so I think it’s important what messages we’re trying to convey and how we present ourselves to the public,” Romero said. “I also think that musicians, at least young ones, are becoming less scared of expressing themselves and just being unique is kind of its own trend.  More young artists is an amazing thing that’s been going on.” 

Taking on the responsibility of being in the public eye as a role model for young aspiring musicians in the area is no easy task. Harris, however, says setting the tone of being bold and unapologetically himself is a tone that needs to be set now more than ever.

“I feel like today everyone is stuck in their own little worlds where they feel they have to be like this photocopy of everyone else and follow all of the social media trends and be in a clique,” Harris said. “But, getting out there and expressing yourself and showing individualism and just being unique is so important for people now. We need to stray away from being another cog in the machine and stand out.”

In our current social climate, social media can appear as an enabler of insecurity. We are constantly bombarded with what a photoshopped and fabricated “perfect life” should look like, and sometimes we feed into those intrusions. Romero, however, feels that people embrace indifference more than ever before. More specifically, artists who showcase their unconformity are heavily celebrated.

”We’re living in an era where people are becoming more self-aware and are becoming more open to listening to others. Society is being so accepting of people that bring new things to the table, and people applaud an artist with uniqueness and individuality,” Romero said. “I’ll listen to a song that will convey the way I’m feeling, and it’ll make me feel identified, like I have a place to be. I think that’s something that I hope I can give people.”

It’s not easy to just throw yourself into the spotlight, being vulnerable for everyone to observe. Musical artistry is always up for interpretation and very prone to criticism, something that is challenging to grasp when you feel like you’re putting your heart on display for an audience. Romero says, however, that the opportunity to impact a person’s life outweighs the possibility of receiving harsh judgment.

“There’s a barrier that I have broken myself that takes time to break, and it’s that barrier of taking that first step or putting your foot in the water. You’re scared of what people are going to think and you’re scared of backlash… However, there’s always going to be at least one person that’s going to listen to your song and feel something,” Romero said. “We play for those people that are here to listen to what we have to say…  As long as you are you and you’re bringing something new to the table, someone is going to love it.”

Comradery and courage; that’s what being in a band evokes. Lyrics and melodies are the framework for constructing a way to express yourself. But, it’s those around you with whom you share those lyrics and melodies that make building the articulation of your feelings so much easier.

“I think it’s important that you’re doing what you love but also with people who also love it around you that will motivate you because there are going to be days where it’s so difficult. It’s having the people around you that also share that love that inspires you by seeing how good they are… Surround yourself with people that are going to push you and make you want to be better.”