My Eastman Novel – advice for first-years from a graduating senior
The following guest post was written by Eastman alumnus Nick German. Thanks Nick – we miss you!
My Eastman Novel
The life of a young musician is filled with many ups and downs. They are all part of the excitement, growth, and adventure that music brings us. When I graduated from high school, people often congratulated me with, “Best wishes on a new chapter in life!” At the time I could not have known that these next four years would be more than just a “chapter in life”- it would be a novel that would change my life forever. The writer Novalis once said, “Life must not be a novel that is given to us, but one that is made by us.” Upon graduation, every Eastman student has a novel; a unique story depicting our growth, adventure, and journey through Eastman. Every novel has a synopsis, right? Here is a synopsis of my Eastman novel.
I remember, very vividly, my first few weeks here. It was filled with endless discovery: making life-long friends from all over the world, seeing new places, and most importantly… making music! I am one of those people who have very good intuition about things. One of these things was the feel at Eastman. While I didn’t know exactly what the environment of Eastman would be, I could quickly tell that I would be a part of an extremely close family. People ask me all the time why I chose Eastman over other schools. For me, it was the warm sense of family, belonging, and the vastness of musical and personal discovery! From moving into my first-year dorm room, to waking across the stage of the Eastman Theater to receive my diploma, every day has been a humbling experience. I feel that many of us tend to take things for granted in life. I would like to encourage all of us to step back and really take the time to appreciate the good and bad in life- “Stop and smell the weeds”, my Pap once said! Luckily for me, Eastman makes this easy. I think I can speak for my colleagues when I say I have no trouble at all being thankful for everything we have at Eastman.
Upon acceptance into Eastman, we are each placed into a studio. Like the larger community here, our studios are also like a very close family. I was most fortunate to be able to study piano under Professor Vincent Lenti. Words cannot describe the amount of wisdom and pedagogical excellence that comes from Mr. Lenti. I have grown so much as a pianist, but of equal importance, I have grown as a person. One of the many things he has said that I will never forget was, “with humility, accept the wrong note and move on!” This is applicable to many things in life. Things may not always go as we want, both in performances and life, however, we need to accept that it happened and move forward. I may sound a bit biased here, but just speak with any Eastman student (past or present) and you will hear very similar things about the relationships they’ve formed with their teachers! This is what makes my home special; we are not numbers or percentages. (I mention this because I get many questions about the “acceptance rate” on tours…keep in mind that you’re more than a percentage in our eyes. We are all musicians!)
Being a music education major, I am extremely blessed to be able to work with the faculty directly. After every class I have with one of the music ed professors, I find myself exhilarated and ready to change the world one young musician at a time! Yes, that may sound cheesy, but many novels have superheroes, right?!…To be in a program that makes you feel so incredibly valued is special. At Eastman, we are trained to become skilled and educated musicians. In addition to this, the music education department trains us to become inspiring, thoughtful, skilled, and loving music teachers- just as our professors are. Never in my life was I more inspired than when I was doing my student teaching. Every single day, I woke up at 5:30am to prepare for my drive to where I was teaching. I got back home and went straight to practicing and planning for the next day. This may sound like a grueling schedule, but don’t worry! Every day as I saw my students, I felt happy and recharged. We were ready to create some beautiful music and I was ready to learn from them. I have made so many amazing memories with each of my students. Thanks to them that my passion for music teaching has been augmented. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am right now in my teaching without the help of the music ed faculty, my cooperating teachers, and my wonderful students! It has definitely been one of the highlights in my Eastman novel!
While I would love to keep telling you about the endless, picture-perfect moments of my time here, every novel has some struggle or conflict as well. In my novel, the struggle can be seen as many things. Every one of us will have our own unique challenges during our studies, but it is our job to accept the “wrong note”, and move on! I’ve gone through many things in these four years, from my appendix rupturing first year, to tackling seemingly impossible tasks both musically and personally. Sometimes, it may feel like there is no way you can get through the day. While I share everything with you in this brief post, I will share this: Eastman is a special place. We are ALL in the same boat. It may seem hard at times, but you must look to your friends and teachers for support! I wouldn’t have been able to get through without the support and prayers of each of my friends. We’re all in the same boat, and this boat is heading to an amazing future that each of us have worked so hard for! In The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein writes, “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.” If you want to find success and improvement, you will have to look and work hard for it…and it feels SO great when you do find it!
Before I finish my synopsis, I want to encourage all incoming and prospective Eastman students. The Eastman School of Music is such a unique and special place to me. You will create strong friendships, you will be pushed to be the best that you can be, you will discover you, you will be given a voice in the world of music, and most importantly, you will be given a home. You will always be a part of a very special family: the Eastman Family. To each incoming first-year I offer this advice: Never take your gift for granted. Work hard and strive to be the best you can be. Share your gift with others. There is an entire library filled with Eastman Novels written by past and present musicians. Make your “Eastman Novel” life-changing and inspiring! Best wishes to all of you on your new journey in life! Congratulations Class of 2019!