Where It All Started

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I was 9 years old when I first put a guitar in my hands. My mother bought guitar lessons for my brother and I while we were still living in Orange County. I didn’t really appreciate the lessons that my mom was paying for, and I was the annoying kid in the class who thought it was the coolest and funniest thing EVER to slide your pick up and down the string like an idiot, hoping other people would actual think it was funny.  I loved punk and ska at the time and didn’t mind the idea of learning some of what I listened to, like NOFX, Sublime, Skankin’ Pickle, and maybe some early Offspring. Even though I didn’t appreciate the guitar lessons yet, I know a seed was planted for my love of music later. So, thanks Mom.

Not exactly the kind of kid ready to learn some serious guitar… I just wanted to eat, play video games, and maybe empty the trash once a day as a chore


Well, believe it or not, I was a decent basketball player when I was younger. I really worked hard at it and was able to play and compete with people a lot older than me. I really thought it was the “thing” that really set me apart. I really put everything I had into it. I remember the very last game I played. I was in eighth grade playing with AA (small school) varsity basketball game. Some of my best friends that I have today including Sifford and Kurt Neil were on my team that year. They can probably remember this awful moment…I can remember it like it was yesterday. In a high intensity moment we were behind by 1 point with only 45 seconds left in the game. I lifted my coach’s spirits really high because I had stolen the ball from one of the other teams’ point-guards at the perfect moment for him to call a time-out. It was a real game changer. So he makes this decision to make me (because he was so proud of me), the 14 year old among the 17-18 year old players, complete the last play. Well, to save you the stress, I bombed it, blew it… I basically passed the ball into the other teams hands and lost the game.It makes me laugh now, but it really sucked..

1998:wow


During the middle of that last year playing basketball, my father took me to a classical guitar concert of a little known artist in New Mexico named Ronald Roybal. It changed my view on things… I knew that I wanted to play music. Roybal would flow on his guitar and play with such passion. He was meditating with his guitar and I wanted to do that. That day, I asked my parents for a classical guitar and lessons again, and this time I would appreciate it.

Gordon Peck at “The Music Man” store in downtown Farmington would give me my first lessons. I remember him at our first lesson saying, “Are you ready for this? We aren’t messing around here. We’re gonna be playing Bach and Mozart, not Metallica”. But I knew exactly what I was getting into. I took a full three months of lessons, and he gave me the tools to teach myself. So I would began to play my guitar 6 hours a day, every day. I remember I couldn’t stop playing, I would play while my parents were asleep, and as soon I woke up in the morning. Some of that lengthy practice and perfection was a result of the issues I was having with my OCD at the time. I would play the music until it was absolutely perfect. If I missed a phrase, or if my nail hit the wrong side of the string I would start the piece of music from the very beginning and do it again. Sometimes I would reach the end of the song, miss the last measure and start all over again. Sometimes this would happen 10 to 15 times. I eventually found my niche, and I loved the Romantic-Period style of classical, with a rubato Santa Fe edge to it. I still play that style to this day.

Now, I play the classical guitar, acoustic guitar (Canadian-fingerstyle), double-bass, keyboard, drums, and I sing. I love it.


My grandfather Raymond Paz was such an inspiration to me, my family, and everyone who was able to meet him. He was such a passionate and loving man. He loved to hear me play, and I loved to play for him. He would always ask us grandchildren to show off our talents for him. One year when I was 15 years old, I really wanted to make him proud so I made him a home-made CD of me just playing my guitar. I wanted to share with you one of his favorite songs…

Romance

 

4 comments
Ronald Roybal
Ronald Roybal

Stephen, I am so glad to hear that my guitar performance helped to inspire you! Thank you for mentioning me and my music. I wish you all the best. I hope we can see each other once more!

stephen
stephen

I'm honored for you to drop by site Mr. Roybal! You are such a talented musician and so gifted!

Miguel
Miguel

Sure it's possible I htugat myself. But if you don't have the time for lessons, you don't have the time to learn for yourself, because what you pretty much have to do is put your guitar somewhere easy to reach, and every time you walk past it pick it up and practise for a while, until it becomes automatic.I don't know much more about strumming than the easy chords, but I htugat myself to pick quite well. What I did was turned on the radio and tried to pick along with those songs, or even listen to a tune and then try pick it. It's hard at first, but when you've trained your ear enough you start to pick the melodies easily enough. What I'm working on now is getting the background picking right.Good luck, keep practising.

Tam
Tam

Oh Stephen I love your heart. You truly inspire me.