Playing Music for a Different Crowd
Jordan Agustin: So it was our first time touring New Zealand.
I couldn’t believe how many people came out to see us that night. It’s as if I saw a sea of people as I looked out from that stage.
I asked my bandmate, “Hey, how many people you think is out there?”
“Well it’s a 10,000-seat capacity venue so I’m guessing that much?”
It was the most electrifying and humbling experience. Try and imagine 10,000 people, I mean 10,000, in New Zealand of all places, singing along to one of your songs?
It was unreal.
An international trip to New Zealand, 24/7 security presence, TV and radio interviews, sold-out shows, a complete stage crew that dismantled and set up all of our equipment, and paid accommodations. And I mean, paid everything.
I thought at that moment, I had done what I only dreamed of: I made it big as a musician.
Or so I thought.
For as long as I remember, music was a part of my life. I was born in the Church and grew up as a typical Fil-Am being raised in Hawaii. You know the kind: multi-generational household, couple of animals in the back, fruit trees – country comfort style living, you know? With family always coming through. So, you get plenty of slippers in the front of your house.
As a kid, I would hear my older sisters and cousins practicing hymns; my sister and cousin were organists at the time. And I guess that’s when my interest in music started. I became part of the children’s choir then transitioned to the adult’s choir. And in middle school, I took music electives that kind of sparked more interest in music. I learned a little bit of piano and some guitar but high school? High school is where I really started to discover myself as a musician.
Growing up in Hawaii, you come across a lot of music, right–from hip hop, emo rock, R&B, acoustic, Hawaiian, roots reggae, island reggae–I listened to it all. I finally found my “niche” when I was invited to a jam sesh in one of the music rooms. My friend had asked me to sing a song with him and we found out we blended pretty well together. I sang harmony and played guitar and he played ukulele and sang leads. It was one of the best jam sessions of my high school career.
Later on, we started recording for fun in our music class and then in an actual studio. Then, we started to play at state-wide talent competitions and then…our first album came out.
The music became much more serious now. As teens, not even finished with high school yet, we got inquiries to play at graduation parties, fundraisers, big concerts and events, travel to the neighboring islands, and even internationally.
Okay, try to think back to when you were younger. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Was it a doctor? A teacher? A designer? Maybe an app developer?
Well, for me, it was that moment on stage in New Zealand that I wanted to be playing music.
So you can just imagine what it must have felt like when all of a sudden, our lead singer decided he wanted to take a break from music. I was shocked at first and honestly, I thought that we were gonna be doing this for a long time, like as a career. He called me one day and talked a story about it for a long time and honestly I was confused and a little upset but who was I to question that decision for him? I remember telling him that I respected that and told him, “You gotta do what you gotta do, bro.”
After that phone call, I thought to myself, now what? I had put all my eggs, or rather, coconuts into this one basket.
I had stopped going to school. I distanced myself from some of my close friends. But what scared me the most was how far from God I felt.
It was a feeling that had been growing over time. At first, it was choosing studio time and playing gigs over attending my own local’s worship service schedules. Then it was missing performance of my duties.
It was a dangerous road to be on and I wanted to get out.
I knew there was only one thing for me to do–work on my relationship with God.
The first step I took was to be more prayerful. I prayed for acceptance, for forgiveness, and guidance. I started showing up to more Church activities and after meditating one day in the worship service, I realized that God was with me the entire time, guiding me, protecting me and bringing me back to Him.
So I thought to myself, What more can He do if I get closer to Him?
The more involved in church activities I got, the more I started to gain a sense of direction. Instead of feeling lost and asking myself, “Now what?” I asked myself, “What can I do to be a better servant to Him?”
I went back to choir practices, helped more in the local and district, and soon I felt there was more guidance in my life. I felt more purpose, and even though I missed performing on a stage in front of a crowd at times, I felt more whole as I performed in front of a different crowd, “God’s crowd” in a sense.
Soon after, I got a pretty solid job teaching music lessons at a private music studio, and then I was teaching music as a music teacher at an elementary school. I was blessed with more opportunities to share my knowledge and passion for music.
Fast forward to just last year, I went back to school. I got an AA in Administration of Justice–something totally left-field from my musical background–but I was able receive Honors. And now, I’m also pursuing a new career in law enforcement.
Today, I feel that I am closer to God than I ever was before. I have been a choir leader for some time now, a local and district officer, and even became my district’s INC Radio Producer.
When I think about how I’ve “made it,” it’s not about how I was able to travel playing music and living that “rockstar” lifestyle. No, it’s about how God made me realize I can be so much more than the musician I was some years ago. You know, “making it” isn’t all about material things and recieving special treatments or getting a certain amount of followers and likes on social medias. It’s about accepting realizations and making our faith our priority. And I have full faith that God will guide me through everything else life has in store.
So while careers change and dreams evolve, my identity today and forever will be as a child of God, a member of the Church Of Christ.
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