Ahlers determined to pursue beatboxing in his future

Junior Tyler Ahlers holds the microphone close to his mouth to create the optimal sounds as he rehearses one of his beatboxing sets on stage.

Aimee Liu | The Chronicle

Beatboxing is not just boots and cats.

A form of vocal percussion, beatboxing is the art of simulating the sounds and rhythms of percussion instruments or a drum machine using the mouth, lips, tongue and voice. Beginners are often taught to repeat the phrase “boots and cats” to create the base sound for beatboxing.

Junior Tyler Ahlers has been beatboxing since the age of six. He said that he began by learning basic drum patterns and then finding different crevices in his mouth to make different sounds.

“I was watching this a cappella band and my dad noticed I made a lot of strange sounds so he said [I] should check out beatboxing,” Ahlers said. “I was hooked immediately so I just kept watching it and eventually I started learning.”

A drum pattern is a rhythmic pattern, usually played on a drum set, that consists of a minimum of the hi-hat, kick and snare. Ahlers said different combinations of sounds can be used to create different styles.

“As long as you get the sounds to develop properly, you can just mess around with it,” Ahlers said.

To begin, Ahlers said he watched tutorials of beatboxing basics online and slowed down videos of professional beatbox rounds to break down and try to copy them. He said he then increased the speed until he could mimic the professionals.

“It’s just a whole lot of repetition,” Ahlers said. “Everyone knows the phrase ‘practice makes perfect,’ so I just did that for hours. You just have to keep trying; beatboxing is a lot of experimenting.”

Although the beginning stages of learning beatboxing were challenging and it took some time to fall in love with the art, Ahlers said that he is now practicing constantly, making as many different noises as possible to improve his beatboxing abilities.

“Once you get past the point where [you are] just trying to make the sound and you can actually start arranging stuff, then it’s amazing,” Ahlers said. “I can [beatbox] at any time because there’s no instruments, so you can do it whenever and it’s very accessible.”

Ahlers has also had several opportunities for performances and mentorship, including recording music in a professional studio to publish on Spotify, speaking with professional beatboxers, performing local gigs at parties for family friends and performing on stages at Mason High School’s A Cappella concerts and talent shows. He said that even after many shows, performing is still nerve-wracking, but seeing the impact of his music is extremely rewarding as an artist.

“I’ve had moments where I’d just look around as I’m performing and I’ve seen so many people with their jaws wide open, freaking out,” Ahlers said. “It’s exhilarating, some of the best moments of my life.”

Ahlers said that his dream for the future is to become a professional beatboxer, despite the difficulties associated with the profession. He said he hopes to just continue performing and make his name known.

“It’s rigorous,” Ahlers said. “There’s problems with making money, and every professional beatboxer has a social media following of a pretty good amount. It takes time, and some people just happen to go viral and make it big.”

Despite the unconventional nature of the career path, Ahlers said that the payoff of becoming a professional beatboxer and getting to travel the world for tournaments and competitions would be worth overcoming the challenges.

“I don’t care [about the money],” Ahlers said. “I just want to be able to sustain my life by making music, putting it out and seeing people enjoy it. I really want that to be my future. It’s such a good feeling, and I live for it.”

Ahlers said he is often approached by people who believe beatboxing is “impossible,” but that his ability is not as special as most people think it is. He said that all of his results come from hard work and a lot of practice.

“It’s all about perseverance,” Ahlers said. “It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, just keep doing it. Do what makes you happy. This is what makes me happy, and now it makes other people happy too.”

Photo by Aimee Liu