Almost all students have played an instrument at some point of their life. However, according to Music Parent,“almost 50% of student musicians quit, unable to enjoy the experience that they’ve had with music.” There are many reasons that a young student may quit an instrument. Some may not being musical interested, busy with other activities, repulsed by practicing, or even the musical teachers they may have. But what about the other 50% who have continued with their music? The difficulty of having to concentrate on both academics and music is sometimes overwhelming. Both require time, hard work, and dedication to succeed; so how do our peers and mentors juggle music and obligations, such as school or work?
Natsumi Meyer, student musician and daughter of professional violinists, has a unique experience with violin in her life: “I have a strange relationship with the violin. For me it has always been something that is ‘there’ for me, whether I like it or not.” While Meyer enjoys playing, she says “sometimes it’s something that stresses me out with the work that comes with it, or something I’m dreading.” However, violin is more than just an additional source of stress for her. According to Meyer, “other times it’s like a little sanctuary for me. The process of playing and practicing violin is something that is very predictable for me, just from experience, and in that way it can be a comfortable routine.”
Her mother, Ms. Hashizume, member of the Cleveland Orchestra, traveled from Tokyo to the United States to pursue her passion for music. Unlike Meyer’s small periods of practicing a day, she practices about two hours daily along with the three to four hours of orchestra time. Both have similar points of view on their social worlds regarding music. Meyer states, “I appreciate violin playing for the opportunities it has provided for me to meet new kids. I’ve been able to connect with a lot of great people through chamber and orchestral music,” and Hashizume adds, “It is hard to socialize with non-musicians because I work when they relax. I have to work in the evenings and on the weekends when other people relax. But I do have close friends who are musicians as well. The orchestras is very close-knit.”
Sergio Castellanos, the Hawken Music Director, finds the relationship between school and music to be extremely important: “Students need music in their lives to help relieve from the pain of schoolwork. When you are overwhelmed, there will be days where you need music to keep your mind off the stresses in your life.”
It’s easy to see the importance of music, but how has playing an instrument changed the lives of both student and professional musicians? After being asked how the violin has affected her life, Meyer answers, “growing up surrounded in the musical world has contributed to the large community I am enhanced by.” Hashizume chimes in similarly: “Violin has changed the way I lived. It is the reason I came to America and without it I wouldn’t have had the same opportunities and experiences in my life.” Castellanos explains about the differences in music between his childhood and now, saying, “There is more structure here in America with their strengths of music. Hawken is fortunate to have programs to offer students, that relate to music, so that every class has the opportunity grow with their own musical experiences.”
Obviously not everyone can have the same experiences that Meyer, Castellanos, and Hashizume have had in their lives. For anyone who wants to be successful in both music and academics, they encourage any budding musicians to work hard and spend their time wisely. Even though being a musician, especially under the pressure of school, may sometimes cause Meyer to want to pull her hair out, there’s nothing she would do to change her life, and she hopes that many other musicians feel the same.