The following guest post was written by Anna Lenhert ’17. Thanks Anna!
It is impossible to adequately cover five years of phenomenal opportunities and memories in one blog post, but here is my best “bird’s eye” reflection on my time here at Eastman. Though it may sound cliché, my time here has been everything I hoped it would be and more. If I were to summarize the three main reasons why I chose Eastman I would say: 1) my studio professor, 2) the tight-knit community, and 3) the emphasis on becoming a well-rounded musician.
The most obvious area of growth to consider, my growth as a musician, is in some ways the hardest to describe. Growing musically is just like growing when you were a kid; it’s a slow but steady process that you only see in hindsight. If you had asked me in high school how I expected to improve, my answer would have leaned toward being able to play more notes faster. While I have become more comfortable in a technical sense, I think an unexpected way I have grown as a musician has less to do with my fingers and more to do with my ears. From the first time I really started to hear the tension and release built into the arc of a melody to trusting my ears to isolate which section of an ensemble I should lock in with, I have seen how the comprehensive approach undertaken at Eastman has improved my musicianship. Of course it goes without saying that the patient and insightful guidance of my studio professor has been the foundation for everything I have learned.
From my first visit, I knew that Eastman felt like home. Initially I was worried that such a high-caliber school would be a cut-throat competitive environment, but instead I was pleasantly surprised to realize that everyone I met was warm and welcoming. Since becoming a student, I have heard so many people echo this same sentiment: that there is something special about Eastman’s community. I had no way to anticipate how much I would grow by being immersed in a community where everyone has an infectious passion for music. To this day, one of my all-time favorite sounds is the boisterous cheering and applause of students in Lowry Hall after a large ensemble performs.
During first semester of freshman year, Eastman students attend Colloquium, a weekly series of talks from various faculty members and guests to get them thinking about the range of opportunities available at Eastman and beyond. One presentation from this class has particularly endured in my memory: a speech by the Dean Paul Burgett. In his talk, Dean Burgett he likened challenges you will inevitably face in your time here to a “fiery furnace.” “Standing in that fiery furnace, with the door closed, I can promise you one thing- you will not die…and eventually you will open the door and you will step out of the furnace strong. You will step out of the furnace tempered like steel with whatever the challenge might have been.” (You can watch this speech on Youtube. I guarantee it will make you laugh and provide a valuable perspective on the transition and journey ahead of you).
Dean Burgett’s predictions held true through the many new challenges I would face, not the least of which was the ongoing balancing act between academic and musical demands. However, these multi-tasking demands will always be a part of my professional career. Having been stretched in order to grow in this capacity can only continue to serve me well.