MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif --
Mychael Perkins is an award-winning pianist who occasionally volunteers his time by playing piano at the O-Club during lunch.
I’ve always had an interest in music. I’ve been playing piano since I was five.
I started taking lessons at the age of seven. It was something that helped me stay out of trouble.
As I progressed, I learned to read music at age eight. I mainly stuck with classical, but by age 13, I started listening to songs on the radio and was able to play them just by listening to them.
I have my own keyboard that I play often.
I’ve played in concerts and competitions. In Jacksonville, there’s the University of North Florida, and they conduct federations (competitions) for different sections such as piano, violin, brass and woodwind instruments.
My music teacher, Hiroka Sanford, told me she wanted to sign me up for the competition. I entered and got 3rd place out of 300.
I met people from Louisiana, Japan, and Switzerland. They all came, like me, to showcase their talent. It was a great experience to meet people there, people that were from all over the world.
I like classical pianists such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Mozart and Johann Sebastian Bach. I’m also a fan of John Phillip Sousa. He was a conductor for the Marine Corps Band.
In my senior year of high school, I went to Washington, D.C., with the marching band and there I met members of the Marine Corps band. It was my first military interaction. I spoke with the conductor, and he gave us a lot of insight.
When I first arrived here, 1st Lt Mcquade, our supply officer, took me and two other Marines to the O-club. It had been awhile since I played, but I noticed the piano there.
Later, I was there for a function, and I thought about the piano.
I went inside to see if it was still there, and asked a woman by the name of Candace if it was okay for me to start playing. She told me to go ahead, that no one ever plays it.
I played for a little while, and as I was about to leave bystanders asked me to play a little longer. When I left she asked me to come back and play sometime. With that, it opened up some big opportunities for me.
A sergeant major approached me one day while I was playing a Bob Marley song.
He asked me how I learned to play the song, and I replied I learned it by listening. Right after that he asked me if I had ever thought about the Marine Corps Band.
Soon after that, I spoke with a master gunnery sergeant and he gave me some pointers on how I can enhance my musical abilities.
I still stay in touch with him; because I have aspirations to try out for the band.
Whether it's with a band or going out in town, I love to just make music.
There was a bar in San Dimas that I stopped at a while back. The people there were waiting for their band to show up so I asked if I could play for them while they waited.
Playing or listening to music is something that can help get through the day if I'm not in the best mood. For me, it creates a vibe that I can just connect to.
Florida is a nice place to relax. There's a lot of nice views out there.
I love the beach, but to me the setting for playing music doesn't matter. It's more about the meaning.
Some of my favorite songs to play are tracks from Super Mario Brothers. I like to remind people of what they used to play as a kid.
I try to go to the O-club during chow. I play for about an hour, grab chow, and come back to work.
Music makes the world go round if you ask me. It’s all based on your emotions.