Jason Murphy, Software Engineer on Drumming

My name is Jason Murphy and I am a Software Development Engineer for Netwatch’s R&D department in Carlow. For the longest time, I wanted to be a mechanic or to go into mechanical engineering. That all changed when I went to an open day at I.T Carlow and went to a talk about their course in Computer Games Development. I have always loved video games ever since I played Sonic the Hedgehog for the first time, and I had never realised that making video games was a possible career in general, let alone in Ireland. I decided to give it a try, and four years later I had my degree. As the Games Development scene in Ireland is still relatively small, I then decided to go into software development. Along the way, I had a brief stint in QA & Automation at Symantec and a work placement with Swrve.

What I really love to do outside my job is to drum. I think my interest in drumming began around 2004. I got my first drum kit for Christmas that year. I just saw a drum kit in a toy shop catalogue and just decided I would like one. After that, it was about learning to play and enjoying the journey. I’ve considered playing other instruments alongside drums, but never instead of drums. I would like to learn to play bass guitar and keyboard someday.

Generally, I play Rock and Metal, but through doing my grade exams with Rockschool, I have played everything from Blues to Rock to Reggae to Metal and more beyond. My favourite artists are Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, Eminem, Corey Taylor of Stone Sour and SlipKnot, David Draiman of Disturbed, Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, Marilyn Manson, Chipzel, Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy, Daft Punk – I could keep going here honestly. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music. My favourite song is ‘Come as You Are’ by Nirvana. It has a relatively simple drum beat, a haunting guitar solo, and Kurt Cobain singing. Enough said.

I find music to be a calming influence, especially after a rough day at work. Generally, it is just for fun, although I started to get a bit more serious about it in the last 2 years or so. I started doing grade exams through Rockschool. Currently, I have my Grade 1 and Grade 3 in drums, and I will most likely turn my attention to doing my next grade exam in the near future. This year, I did an introductory course in Sound Engineering and Music Technology at the Academy of Sound in Dublin. I found it really interesting and it really opened my eyes to different sides of music that I had not previously seen.

If there is an artist I would pick to perform with, I am going to pick the Swedish band Ghost. I love everything about this band – from the ever-changing character played by the lead singer to the story they have built to explain the existence of the band and the slight changes to the music in each album. They are definitely on my list of bands to see live one day.

The similarities between my time drumming and my career as a software engineer are that both are skills that need to be worked on in order to get good at them and there is always more to learn. There is no point where you just know everything. Another similarity is that the simplest option is often the best. A simple beat can often sound better than a hugely complex one. The same is true for software development. The simple solution to a problem or task can oftentimes trump the massively complex solution that does the same job. I think music can be a benefit, for one, because it can relieve stress. Sometimes when I step away from a programming problem and either play drums or listen to music I figure out the solution to the problem without consciously thinking about it. It’s almost like a ‘eureka’ moment.

I believe there are two key things for being a successful drummer. The first is to find a good teacher. I have been going to Prestige School of Music in Laois for many years. Kevin, the drum teacher and owner, has guided me through two Grade exams and taught me many techniques. The second key thing is to not give up. Trying to nail that one bar of a song or that one tricky technique can be frustrating. Figure out which instrument or instruments you want to play, get a good teacher or learning resource, and keep working on it. By practicing, even just for a few minutes at a time, you will improve. The key is to keep at it and it will eventually click.

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