• Stepping Stones Kottla

Music Soothes the Soul - Chris Mockrish

By Chris Mockrish, Principal

Music has always been an extremely important part of my life. Growing up in New York City, I was always fortunate to be surrounded by music. I think my first real connection to music was when I was in First Grade and my class went to Lincoln Center around Christmas time to see The Nutcracker. Everyone in my class, especially the girls, were fascinated by the ballerinas. I have a very vivid memory of being awestruck by the orchestra! I was amazed by the size of the group, the different shapes and sizes of the instruments and the unbelievable cacophony of sound that beautifully filled the entire theater. It is something that sticks with me until today.

Being a child of the 60’s, my next vivid memories of music involved the sounds of rock and roll! I couldn’t believe the sound… it was so new and different and exciting- I remember the first time my older brother came home with a Beatles LP… I had never heard anything like it before! I was instantly hooked. As a teenager, I spent many a night at Madison Square Garden listening to concerts by the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, Neil Young, BB King, Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan and many more. I was so excited by this “new sound” that I decided to try and learn how to play the guitar.

My parents were a little worried that I was paying too much attention to “just rock-n-roll.” I’m not even sure if they considered it “real music,” so they continued to take me to Lincoln Center to listen to operas and to Carnegie Hall to listen to classical recitals. The strange part about it was that I loved that too. While most of my friends thought that opera and classical music was “lame” I always liked it, and didn’t think it was a big deal to like rock and classical. It was a great time in New York for Jazz as well, and I loved that too! I remember going to the Blue Note to listen to Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea or Jaco Pastorius. So in the end, my parents had nothing to worry about… I truly loved all kinds of music, but my heart was tied to the strings of a guitar.

By the time I was 15, I was so hooked that I decided to mow lawns and do a paper route all summer long so that I could save up enough money to buy a guitar. I then spent countless hours in my room teaching myself how to play. I would put on a cassette tape and rewind it over and over until I figured out the guitar parts to my favorite songs. Eventually, I became good enough to join a band and at one point in my life I dreamed of becoming a rock and roll star! Although that dream never materialized, I have continued to play the guitar and I have played in many different bands during my adult life. It gives me such joy and pleasure, and it is very relaxing for me. When I am playing the guitar, I’m always in my “happy place.” If I’ve had a tough day at work or a bad day, I come home and strum my guitar… after 15-20 minutes, I feel better and calmer… it’s like my own personal therapist!

Even though I never “made it” as a musician, I am grateful for my love affair with music. I truly believe it helped me in school with my other subjects, helped with my creativity and it also gave me a true love of the arts.But most of all, I love it because it is fun!

Music has definitely made my life richer, and I am happy that we are able to offer a good music education at Futuraskolan International Kottla. I think it is important to develop in all students. I think it helps make you a more complete person. In closing, I’d like to thank the students for creating this web page- what a great initiative! And thank you for letting me add a few words to your project… let the music soothe your soul and rock on!