Senior finds purpose and passion in music

February 8, 2018 — by Muthu Palaniappan

While many students enjoy playing and listening to music, senior John Noralahi takes his passion one step further.

Noralahi knows how to play seven instruments: the piano; electric, acoustic and classical guitar; the drums; ukulele and “tombak,” a Persian drum.

Noralahi discovered his interest in music in elementary school. He learned how to play piano at a young age by ear, testing out the different notes until he could make out a tune. Throughout his middle and high school years, he started developing skills on other instruments, learning them all by ear.

Noralahi says he cannot choose a favorite instrument.

“I love guitar and piano both equally, they let me express how I feel either by strumming the strings or pounding on the keys,” Noralahi said. “You can’t compare the two in my opinion.”

Noralahi enjoys accompanying his instruments with his own voice, singing and playing covers of ‘80s songs, classic rock and Spanish style guitar. He specifically chooses to sing mostly ‘70s and ‘80s songs, because he believes the music from those decades is more meaningful than today’s music.

Much like other young musical talents, Noralahi at one point posted his covers to an Instagram account dedicated for music. But after some time, he stopped focusing on social media, and started focusing more on the music itself.

“I realized how much this power meant to me, and I didn’t have to prove that I could play this or play that online,” Noralahi said. “I just had to feel.”

In the process of making music, Noralahi finds inspiration by listening to music. His favorite band is Journey, which he was introduced to by his mother.

“Their songs have so many different feels,” Noralahi said.“It’s like riding an emotional roller coaster after each one ends.”

While listening to music, Noralahi takes time to understand the melodies and lyrics through which the artists work so hard to send a message. He even admits to crying while listening to certain songs.

Though he has considered it many times,  Noralahi does not want pursue music as a career.

“With every chance of success, there is a chance of failure, so I don’t think I can put something I care about at such a risk,” Noralahi said. “For now, I don’t keep it as a hobby; it’s more of a lifestyle.”

Nevertheless, Noralahi continues to practice and enjoy music. Every day after school, he spends 20 minutes playing the piano, then another hour on the guitar.

“Whether I have a good day or bad day, I always have music to come home to, and it will never leave no matter what happens in this world,” Noralahi said.

Noralahi is currently composing an instrumental soundtrack for a film he is working on for Media Arts. This will be the first time he creates a soundtrack for a video.  

Noralahi realizes he may not be the best musician at school, but believes it is his dedication and passion that makes him stand out. He plays for his own joy and the joy his music brings others.

“Music brings people together,” Noralahi said. “It unites us as one. That’s why I play music. I want to be part of that. I want to contribute.”


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