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A Higher Note

How one Parker teen is battling the bullies and depression with music

Camden Piper is creating beauty from ashes, one song lyric at a time. Through a long battle with depression and anxiety, the 17-year-old virtuoso has found that his best weaponry is music.

“I’ve had the artistry and the passion ever since I could remember,” Camden says. “The emotion was there, it just took me a while to fully get into the craft.” His craft, primarily self- taught, includes playing guitar, ukulele, piano, and singing. He is building quite the creative arsenal on his sound cloud and has a few professionally recorded songs on Spotify.

Camden was born premature and, as a result, had some developmental delays. His mother, Gretchen Piper, says that he grew up behind in school and was severely bullied. In the midst of that difficult time, they made a discovery.

“All of a sudden we found this notebook and discovered that all this time, he had been writing,” Gretchen said. “There was a time where we never thought he’d pick up a pencil, and all of a sudden he’s writing this incredible, deep stuff.”

Camden primarily crafts his music from a makeshift studio in his closet. What started as an intimate, inward way of processing evolved into an outward desire for change. He now recognizes his profound connection to societal issues and says that stopping inequality is his main muse.

In 2019 Camden wrote a song titled, “Words do not hurt me anymore” about overcoming the effects of bullying. Robbie’s Hope, an organization with a mission to stop the teen suicide epidemic, expressed interest in professionally producing Camden’s song.

“I’m not saying I have the power to change inequality with a snap of my fingers, but I want to be the voice that motivates people,” Camden says. Though “Words do not hurt me anymore” was about Camden’s personal experience, the STEM high school shooting largely inspired the song.

“You never know when a person is so depressed that they feel like the world is against them. That’s where they can arm themselves and take it out on other people,” Camden says. Through expressing his own victory over bullying, Camden hopes that others will seek to redeem their pain rather than resorting to violence against themselves or others.

Camden has always demonstrated an aptitude for technology. As a kid, he constantly mixed music on his iPad and, as a teenager, has found unique ways of taking exquisite photos— on his iPhone. He grabs whatever he can find, from traffic cones to pipes, to create abstract effects and unique ways of seeing everyday objects. He simply has fun with the process and is adamant to say that while photography is a hobby, music is a passion.

Despite being technologically savvy, Camden ironically doesn’t care for his phone. He is sure to turn it off in public spaces or group conversations.

“I’ve been through so much to have acknowledgement and to better understand myself and my surroundings, so I don’t want to be distracted like I was before,” Camden says. His most current song, “Blindfold,” is about people’s tendency to numb, distract, and avoid painful

realities through different addictions and vices. Mindfulness is key for Camden, and he takes tangible steps to ensure that he is present to his thoughts and emotions. “I don’t want to be blindfolded to my own anxiety or depression again,” he says.

Camden finds strength in knowing that his past pain can help people through their own. If he could give people one piece of advice, it would be this: “Regardless of what you’re going through, just know that no matter how bad the situation is, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s always true. Look at me.”

Camden’s Sound Cloud with all of his music can be found at: zebraf0rk