Keeping up with the music in college

Photo by Casey Gomez

You let a lot of things fade when you go off to college: friendships, healthy eating habits, self-esteem. If you play an instrument, you might come home on break, to realize that your technique has atrophied from lack of use.

I shuffled through nearly ten years of piano, without realizing that music is really just another form of language. You read it and write it and use it to express something through tones rather than words. I could pick out a ragtime tune, a couple bars of Fur Elise, and at one point the entire chorus of “Low” by Flo Rida. Music lessons helped me think structurally about abstract concepts, like turning a theme into a sequence of notes or affecting a mood just by upping the tempo. By my junior year of high school, I could play along with other people, improvising a song with a few chords and someone on guitar.

Then came college. College is the point where kids become serious about their instrument or fall out of practice until the ability to play fades from memory. I fall in the second category. My freshman year, the only access I had to a keyboard was the in the basement of Field, where keys were missing and the humidity had warped the piano until it was whole steps out of tune.

By the time I began my sophomore year, I realized that if I did not do something, I would forget completely. Musical instruments may not be essential to Tech’s curriculum, but they do offer an outlet for students and I advise anyone who has grown up playing an instrument to do their best with keeping up with it in college. I invested in a keyboard and headphones I keep in my apartment. I can no longer play even half as well as before, but when I need to take a study break, I tap out a song and relax.

Finding the time to practice an instrument in college may be difficult due to classes and lack of rehearsing spaces, but it is absolutely possible and most definitely worth it. It’s not well-known, but Tech offers practice rooms in the School of Music that students can rent for $15 per semester if they are enrolled in a music class and $30 if they are not. Additionally, students can get involved with Under the Couch and WREK Radio to connect with other students who play an instrument.

Although scheduling free time while balancing classes at Tech is difficult, it is still possible to find time to play your instrument and keep up with the music.