I was a music nerd in high school. I played the cello, sang in choir, was in the Tri-M Music Honors Society, took private lessons, performed in all of the musicals and felt like I was in a different concert every other week. It was exhausting, but I enjoyed it. I complained every day, but I loved it. There were a few times that I almost had to give it up, but I fought to keep music in my schedule all four years.
Once you go to college, you realize that you need to find your “spot”. Your place to go that is your place, somewhere that is yours to use for homework, lunch, reading, or when you just need a moment alone. A lot of people find their spots on the quad, in the library, or in the lobby of their residence hall. My spot is in the basement of the Center for Performing Arts, at a table in the middle of a maze of practice rooms and piano storage rooms. There are always people practicing and playing music, and it makes me feel right at home.
I was in my spot today. I grabbed a snack, FaceTimed my mom, and pulled up all sorts of tabs on my laptop trying to get ahead on homework. Somewhere in the middle of this, I heard someone begin to practice the cello. People are always playing instruments in the practice rooms, but for some reason, I was completely distracted by this mystery musician. I sat in my spot smiling like an idiot listening to the cellist play Bach’s Suite No. 4. After a little while of listening, I closed my laptop, packed up my things, and started walking towards the music. I stood outside of the practice room leaning against the wall with my eyes closed, listening to the cello player’s rehearsal for just a few more minutes; and then I shyly walked up to the door and knocked.
The music stopped and I heard the musician put down her bow, and then a tall blonde girl with a flustered expression opened the practice room door. I told her that I had been doing homework around the corner, and that I couldn’t help but tell her how amazing she sounded. The girl looked at me and smiled. She took a huge intake of breath and told me how she was getting ready to audition for graduate programs, and how stressed and nervous she was about it. I told her again how beautiful her playing sounded, and wished her luck on her auditions.
I am not sure if I made a huge impact on her day, but she definitely did on mine. I miss music. I want to spend hours every day in rehearsals and practice rooms trying to learn new notes and rhythms. I want to be in a 150-person choir again singing gospel music and traveling around Chicago with a world-renowned symphony orchestra. My high school career revolved around music, and after I graduated, it just stopped. Cold turkey. No more music.
This discovery won’t be a huge revelation to anyone reading my blog. Everyone told me this would happen before I left for school, all throughout my high school days. I was warned. But you really don’t know how much you’ll miss music and the music community until you find yourself listening to a stranger play your former instrument, wishing it were you instead.
So my advice to young musicians is this: enjoy playing. Keep playing. Because someday soon, if you stop playing, you will miss it.
I know this isn’t the first time you have gotten this advice. It won’t be the last time you get this advice, either. This is just me joining the community of post-high school graduate musicians who wish they could get together for one last grand finale.