Kudos to autodidacts: Are you one?

When you catch the first sight of him, immediately words like: Goth, depressed, different may enter your minds.

But Andrew De Leon is an autodidact who can actually Sing!

Wait. What in the heavens is an autodidact?

Upon finding the word in Dean Koontz’s book “Breathless”, I researched it and found that it describes me perfectly: A person who is self taught. This means that person has to have self motivation and dedication to achieve what it is you want.

I first realized I was an autodidact when I was sixteen or seventeen and it was my first time taking Acapella Choir as an elective and Music Theory 1. It was high school and I was learning under strict but knowledgeable teachers who thumped in our heads that going to college and getting that superior education will ensure that we will have a secure future.

Not that I didn’t believe it, but even then not many people had jobs with degrees and sometimes a semester is not long enough to learn a challenging area.

So there I was- a newbie at singing and learning musical notes. Trust and believe I knew nothing about either. I knew I sucked at singing but Music Theory was enlightening and I enjoyed the challenge it presented.

Many students in my class were already in band or in Jazz Choirs and had beautiful voices. Not me. Many couldn’t read music either but they can sing their butts off. Needless to say, I played the keyboard my dad bought me every night. I studied the music notes and memorized how long to hold a beat and a pause. I bought books on piano lessons and theory with my own allowance money.

I practiced so hard I passed the course with a good grade(A or B) and on my first musical arrangement homework I got a high B. That is what self learning did for me.

When you grab a book, watch a video on YouTube, or listen to a taping on “how to do” something and you truly understand it and able to apply the principles…you are an autodidact.

Technically, you are learning from someone because you had to grab their materials. But it is on your own terms. I realized that the foundation I had in music theory, choir, and the Spanish class I took still hold  my interest to this day nearly sixteen years later…and I continue to learn them too.

Andrew De Leon is a great singer. Whether he used materials to help or not, I don’t know. But without formal training, he sounded amazing on America’s Got Talent.


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