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Hi Guys! Just dropped out of music school to follow the Fastlane


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Jan 20, 2018
Santiago, Chile
Hello everyone!

I haven't joined a forum in about 10 years or so, but I'm making the exception today. I read TMF about 2 years ago. At the time I found it had a lot of sense, but I couldn't at the time apply but some things of it in my career. Now it's advice is starting to prove invaluable, at my 25 years of age, when I finally realized everything that was wrong with my life and the veil started to lift from my eyes.

Since I was very young (say, 3 years or so), I had access to computers and books. That in itself was a fertile ground for a very inquisitive young mind. I had the opportunity to learn computing and a bit of programming and repairing here and there. At 7 years old, I already could use the computer with more ease than my father (he's an electrical engineer); at 10 years old, there were already adults asking me for help with their computers. This proved to be the undoing of my life until now, since I was supposedly "gifted", my family had big expectations for me.

When I was 13 years old, I got my first guitar for Christmas. That started a relationship which I'm still cultivating to this day. I always struggled with the instrument and saw how my peers played better and more technical stuff than I could, which I supposed was the biggest reason why I spent a lot of energy and time in it. School was boring, and the guitar was a challenge.
But the problems with my father only intensified since I started getting other interests.

The thing is that as good as my father was at sustaining a Slowlane life, he was awful at parenting. My study sessions at home, ever since I remember, consisted mostly of screaming matches and physical violence to make me comply with studying, telling me all the time that other kids would "love" to have the opportunities I had. Obviously this escalated to the point where I preferred to not give any effort in school and be scolded, rather than be scolded for making an effort.

Around 14 years old, I formed my first band, which sucked (obviously) but, since we didn't have the funds, yet had the space and some chinese microphones that belonged to my father, that started, unknowingly, my recording engineer career.

When I was 15, my parents divorced. Sparing details, it was messy and since I'm the older of two siblings, I got caught in the crossfire. The image I had of my father was shattered completely when I caught him screaming to my mother at the phone, and to this day I can't completely respect him after that. After the divorce, my grades at school plummeted. I never made much effort to get good grades, but I had some good assignments (math and biology, for example), which fell to the bottom after (In US system, I fell from being an A-, B+ student to a D). Obviously all of this meant more pressure and screaming, but thankfully no more fists.

Around that point I was starting to realize that I did kind of have a future in audio, and by the circumstances of destiny, got a mentor who was a successful recording engineer who works with many famous bands in my country. Had a good period there and learned a lot, but once I got out of school, I still got pressured by my father to go to college and get a Computer Science degree. I didn't get such a good grade at the PSU (the chilean equivalent of the GPA), but I wasn't given a choice to do it again or even think what I wanted, and I had to go to a "private" college (read not respected and scummy on various marketing levels. Laureate doesn't have a good name here).

It sucked. I never completely jelled with the students, even though I had ease with computers, though if I had the chance to do it again, I would have taken the Calculus courses more seriously. At first I did try to make it work, but the pressures of my father (who kept insisting we had all of the opportunities of the world and he did not and didn't like the "poor" grades I had), coupled with the fact that I didn't what to give up playing music in a band as he wanted (seriously, I tried for a month and almost went insane without an outlet), made me think: "So, If I make music my career, maybe the grind will get easier and I will be 'happy'" (hahaha)

Two years after entering Computer College, I quit and entered music school. First year was regular, neither too good nor too bad. The following year, we had a big falling out with a confirmed narcissist ex-band member, which made me lose steam in the courses, and had to study double and triple what I normally had. The thing with music school is: it's a physical discipline, not only mental. Cramming all that knowledge inside your muscles only had the expected result: I developed a tendinitis in my left arm which I carry to this day, and had to repeat the year.

My father was livid over having to pay for one more year. Around this time I started to realize just how unbalanced this man could be. It wasn't even a money problem, it was his ego.

The story repeated itself later the next year, when my young brother had an accident and broke two meniscus from his right knee. He had a difficult operation, and had to be in bed for over 2 months. My father couldn't accept the fact that my brother had to 'freeze' the college course of a semester, and forced him to go anyways being 2 months and a half behind schedule. Obviously, he failed every course of the semester and almost got himself expelled. After that, my brother repeated one other class, and the college gave him an offer to continue but get expelled immediately if he failed another course, or quit: He chose the latter and decided to study music too.

Last year, I had the tough luck of getting the most difficult and demanding teacher for the main course. It was a hard year, with the pain in my arm as a constant reminder of all the hours I couldn't put in. Around the same time I had recommendation to go to the school's psychologist, in order to discover what was 'wrong' with me and why wouldn't I study (try to study 8 hours a day with a throbbing arm that can't move your fingers after the third hour). Thankfully the psychologist was one of the best things that could happen to me at that time, I realized a lot of stuff I didn't know about the pressures and conditions of my family life, and how that stress was starting to affect my body.

Also around that point, I started to gain money as a recording engineer, slowly the jobs were coming without asking for them, and that coupled with my experiments streaming bands (After reading TMF , I realized we as a band had to make something of value, and as such, after some trial and error, we started to stream bands with multitrack through youtube and facebook at no charge for now, inviting them, and also playing ourselves), made for a very active and productive year. Also, I realized I had a passion for Acoustic Engineering (been reading a lot of books), and I want to go to study DSP at TU-Ilmenau, in Germany. Not everything was roses though.

I finally had my breaking point about a month ago, when I left music school. I flunked pretty much all the courses which demanded physical ability from me, which I told my father multiple times throughout the year would happen. He still decided to scream at me again, never mind the fact that I had to go through pain every single step of the way. Then I realized a fact, and everything made sense in my head: I had to respond to this A-hole, as long as I took his money. So I took the choice, and told him to keep every single cent. To not give me anything, cero, zilch, nada. I left school soon after (obviously I can't afford it right now, and I was getting tired with the narcissistic bubble inside that school). As an humorous side, my aunt (who studied with my father at college), later told me that my dad flunked many courses in college, and it was his connection to masonry which saved him, go figure.

What is more clear to me right now, a month later, is how the simple fact of telling my father off and not receiving his money has had a calming effect on my psyche. My arm is not cured, but I no longer feel a constant pain in it (rather, it only hurts when I exert it too much now). I no longer feel that pressure in my neck. I'm clenching my teeth less and less. I feel free.

And now, the future follows. After learning so much with MJ's book (and waiting for Unscripted to arrive in the mail), I realized that the path that makes more sense to me right now is to trudge through the Fastlane, start developing apps and develop my skills while I gain money.

Thankfully, I'm lucky to be obsessive enough to be good at a marketable skill (recording and amplifying bands, including drums), which many sad fellows spend 5 years and a debt in education to get. (not that I feel threatened by them, most sound engineers who are fresh from college can't record a drumset to save their lives, it's always been historically a mentorship career: Alan Parsons [Dark side of the Moon] learned directly from Geoff Emmerick [later stage of the Beatles], for example)

I've been since receiving a lot of sound amplification gigs. I'm grateful, but hungry for much more. I don't want to just stay all my life behind the console having to bite my tongue at the a**hole singer who thinks himself all important, but can't sing a note in tune to save his life ( And probably sings less than me: Not to be arrogant, but all of you musicians here respect your sound guys, you never know what other abilities he might have; or how he could F*ck your set if you truly piss him off).

As I said before, I want to Fastlane to study acoustic engineering and DSP in Germany. I want to fund my growth. I want not to be the guy behind the console, but rather the guy who builds the console and sells it. the guy who solves the real problems in audio, both analog and digital. I want to be an Audio Scientist, make plugins, audio equipment, better what we have, and make good sounds more affordable to the average musician. It's a hard road ahead, but I want to have the right to claim it, and once I'm old and I look back, I want to be able to say with my whole conviction "I built this empire with my own hands"!

Thanks a lot @MJ DeMarco , if it weren't for you, your forum and your books, i wouldn't feel so empowered to throw out my chains and tackle this hard but rewarding new chapter of my life. If I ever make the next Pro Tools, I'll be sure to put your name in the special thanks, since I would owe all of that to you. Thanks also to everyone who contributes with all the awesome content of this board. (Also sorry if the post was too long, haha)

Thanks to you all, and hello Fastlane Forum!
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MJ DeMarco

I followed the science; all I found was money.
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Jul 23, 2007
Wow, what a story. Thanks for sharing, although your father has a right to be angry if you are spending his money for a service (college) you don't use or honor.

Welcome to the forum and thank you for sharing your why.


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Jan 20, 2018
Santiago, Chile
Thanks for the welcome MJ!

Never said he didn't have a right to be angry per se (honestly, I can understand that), the problem has always been on his ways of anger management, and the ways he always tries to invalidate the rest while trying to keep himself on top. One time, when I was 10 years old, I remember I asked him for a book in C++, and the reason he gave me for not buying wasn't that it was expensive (which I would have understood, even at that age), but rather that I "didn't know as much math as he does", which is a load of bullcrap: No programming language requires knowing math in itself (And Satoru Iwata, ex president of Nintendo, at that age was already programming assembler in a Commodore PET, way heavier stuff than C). Another time my uncle (my dad's brother) gave me a computer for Christmas: Imagine my surprise when I found that computer in my father's bedroom with a password. According to him (not my uncle, who gave it to me in my hands), it was always his'.
There's all those little incidents in my life: of deceit, put downs and plain egotism, which are, sadly, the majority of the memories I have with him (he always worked from Monday to Friday, sometimes the whole week, never saw him too much), and in the end made me realize that the only way I could be in the calm state of mind I need in order to realize my dreams, was to reject all the money from the divorce and college, and make it on my own.
In the end, when we had our last phone call, I asked directly if he did envy me (which the school's psychologist told me would be the most rational explanation why he would act like that), he confirmed me that. According to him, he envied the conditions that I had and he didn't, but I personally believe that, by the way he's always acted, not just with school/college, he feels humiliated by the fact I seem (not necessarily are) smarter than him. And that what makes him, one the one side pay for the expenses of college, as society says he has, and for the other side, try to sabotage my confidence with little nuggets and comments full of invalidation. Once he said that to me, it was clear: I could not keep receiving this man's money.
Anyways, law 10 and 40 are in effect here (48 laws of power). He has his own demons to sort, but I can't keep waiting for him to solve them, I've got dragons to slay.

"Unscripted " has just arrived in the mail, can't wait to read it! :)

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