Devin Henfield: a black classically trained musician

Devin Henfield, a graphic design major at Georgia State, has an undying passion for music. He began his musical journey when his parents signed him up for piano lessons at the age of 5 years old.

His parents hired an elderly German lady who studied at Yale to teach him how to play the piano. She was his teacher for 12 years. Although he was grateful for his experience, Henfield didn’t really enjoy playing the piano that much at the time.

Photo by Silvester Silver III | The Signal

Henfield’s desire to create and explore music is credited to his years of playing the piano.

“It formed the foundation for everything I know now,” he said, “If I hadn’t played piano, I probably wouldn’t be into music now.”

Henfield can play the guitar, drums and bass as well. Guitar is his favorite instrument to play.

“You can make the most sounds with a guitar,” he said. “With a piano, you’re kind of limited because you just press a button and the sound comes out. With a guitar, you can bend and slide and get a larger variety of different sounds.”

He began picking up other instruments in high school. Inspired by a friend who made beats, Henield began making beats of his own. He also used his knowledge from piano to teach himself how to play other instruments as well. High school is when he really started to fall in love with music.

His adoration for music led to him creating a mini studio in his room. When purchasing equipment for his studio at a music store, an employee asked if he needed help with his SoundCloud page. He assumed Henfield was a “SoundCloud rapper” based on his appearance.

“I like the fact that people expect one thing and get the next,” he said. “I think that actually would open doors for me because its kinda different and people aren’t expecting it.”

Henfield’s creative process seems so complex to someone who hasn’t been playing instruments for over twelve years. He won’t even touch a single instrument or button until he has a fully developed idea in his head.

“Here’s this idea that I have to put into words somehow, and then I think to myself, ‘What is the overall feeling that I want the listener to have while listening to the song? How do I want to make people feel?’” Henfield said. “Once I have that down, that’s when I start thinking, ‘What pace should it go at? What sort of instruments should be in there? How danceable should it be? Should it be groovy or should it drag or should it be really crazy and wild?’”

After this process that “happens in a matter of minutes,” he thinks of a simple chord progression in his head, then he will modify the chords to fit the emotion of the song, after which he finally picks up the guitar.

A career in music would be a dream for Henfield. With a major in graphic design, he would like to create tour posters, album covers, magazine design, film posters, or really anything that could involve his passion for music with his degree in the future.

His dream job, though, is to be a recording artist.

“I would be 100% content on my deathbed with what I’ve done with music, as long as I know that I didn’t give up and I gave it my all,” Henfield said. “It’s super corny, but I literally do not need to travel the world and be famous and have fans. I don’t need that. I just want to know that I never decided to put it down because it’s what I love.”