BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
You’re in his head. Nothing else in the world matters outside of the room you’re standing in. Every single worry you had two seconds beforehand is now dumped from your memory and you are frozen in time. Your body becomes numb. Then, you feel your stomach begin to fill with butterflies and an overwhelming rush of adrenaline runs through you like a tidal wave.
Welcome to the mind of Airman 1st Class Zacary Heinzerling, 460th Security Forces Squadron apprentice, as he describes the feeling after hearing his band play a song he wrote for the first time.
From a young age, Heinzerling has been obsessed with music. His father, a music lover and a former music education student at Luther College in Iowa, was the first to really introduce him to music.
“It was at the age of 10 when I was given my very first instrument,” said Heinzerling. “It was my guitar.”
Since the moment he picked up that guitar, music has had a strong impact on his life. What was expected to become a hobby quickly became his obsession.
Although he became inseparable from his guitar, it wasn’t enough. Watching his father play the drums at home began to spark another interest.
“When I was growing up, my father had a set of drums,” said the musician. “Because of that, I knew it only made sense to pick up the drums next.”
At that time in his life, his biggest musical influences were the bands his parents would play at home.
“I remember my biggest influences as a young musician being bands like Led Zeppelin and Rush,” Heinzerling recalled. “It was the music I would hear around the house.”
He continued to solely play music similar to the sound of those bands until high school. In high school, Heinzerling decided to finally take his musical talent outside the walls of his home. He signed up to join his school’s jazz and marching bands, because he knew there was more he needed to learn.
“The high school jazz band and marching band were really my big push to increase my skills on the drums,” said Heinzerling. “I don’t think musicians like to admit it, but drumming for a jazz band is incredibly difficult.”
After spending a couple years of playing in high school, he decided to expand his musical knowledge even further. He reached out to the local community college, where he then enrolled into a music theory course. The course was designed to teach students how music is composed.
It was this course that helped him realize how much he truly loved music and opened new doors for him. It provided him the opportunity to expand his talent and learn to play other instruments.
“I learned so much in that class,” said Heinzerling. “I began playing the piano, tuba, trombone, baritone, bass guitar and the saxophone, both alto and tenor.”
With his newly found knowledge of musical creation and playing new instruments, he started to become more confident in his talent and began playing in bands with friends.
“Throughout high school and my early years of college, I’ve had an array of bands,” said Heinzerling with a smile. “I have probably been in about five or six bands.”
For each band he was involved with, he worked restlessly to create new songs. Writing music quickly became a new passion for the young artist.
Through the experiences of writing music and creating songs, his respect for other genres changed vastly.
Today, Heinzerling incorporates multiple genres into each song he creates.
“A lot of genres have almost become this lost art,” said Heinzerling. “I like to mix in genres like jazz and classical to show people it’s not always boring.”
Due to the long stressful hours of his job, where he holds a crucial role in the safety of the base populist, he doesn’t have as much free time to spend making music as he would like.
However, he’s found that pulling out his guitar after a 12-hour shift has become a great stress reliever. Having less stress makes him a much stronger asset to Security Forces.
Due to this, his co-workers and supervisors have become very supportive of his hobby and are happy he’s found an outlet to escape the stresses of work.
“I think it's great that he’s found an outlet for his stress so early in his career,” stated Tech. Sgt. Mark D. Velasquez, 460th SFS flight chief. “It is very easy for a new Airman to become overwhelmed at their first duty assignment due to all the tasks and training requirements that are put upon them and they can lose sight of what's important to their families and selves.”
Although his schedule is busy, Heinzerling continues to create music and is currently in search of other musicians to start a band with.
Back in the Airman's head, the rush of emotions have passed and you're able
to focus on the sound blaring from the speakers in front of you. The hours of hard work you put into creating this song have now come to life. And this is just the beginning.