Music Everywhere – My First Experience of Music at Swat

8 mins read

Needless to say, the Swarthmore’s campus is beautiful. But what’s the most beautiful part of Swarthmore? In my opinion, music is the most beautiful part of Swarthmore. It is found everywhere on campus, from the Crum Woods to Parrish Hall. It is beautiful not only because it is pleasing to the ear, but also because it is associated with many interesting stories that have happened during the first weeks of my life at Swat. I will explore the music found at various locations on campus and stories associated with it. Sometimes I enjoy the music here, but occasionally I am annoyed by the music here. But this doesn’t matter. I love the music at Swat.

One day, when I was hiking on the trails at Crum Woods, I heard a student playing music. This gave me a sense of security, as I knew there were people near me. Hiking alone at these trails could be scary for me, even during the daytime.

The music I heard that day came from the practice rooms at Lang Music Building. Lang Music Building is located at the edge of the Crum Woods, and I think it is one of the most beautiful buildings on campus. It is the place where all the students met for the first time during orientation. The background was not dull with grey walls. Instead, the open windows offer captivating views of Crum Woods, which was green and lovely. Thus, I found the first meeting of all students quite charming and memorable. With such a nice beginning, I now have high expectations for my entire college life. It will be as nice as the beginning.

Later, when I had more free time, I started playing the piano in the practice rooms in Lang Music Building. Although the course load was stressful, music relieved me. The practice rooms at Lang Music Building were as nice as the concert hall. I could find old pianos there, which surprised me at first. I once thought these pianos were carefully protected and that “ordinary” students wouldn’t have access to these pianos. After my initial surprise, I was more curious about these pianos. Would these old pianos sound the same as my piano at home? An easy way to examine was to play my favorite piece on that piano. I chose Chopin’s Ballade No. 1, and I found the music played here more touching. I forgot everything then —  I forgot my heavy workload, I forgot my homesickness, and I forgot my disappointment when I was lotteried out of two courses.

When I was playing the music on these grand pianos, I couldn’t stop recalling past stories between me and grand pianos. My first chance to play on a grand piano was many years ago. As a small boy, I was curious about the structure of the  grand piano. So, when I was playing during my kindergarten’s concert, I stood up and looked inside the grand piano. Today such curiosity hasn’t diminished, and I still look inside these pianos when I’m practicing.

Sometimes when I’m tired, I look outside the window. I can see the spectacular view of the Crum Woods. Then, I will practice more passionately. Music is beautiful, but the combination of music and picturesque scenery is even more beautiful.    

I know I will miss these nice pianos after my graduation. When I go to work or graduate school, I’ll likely have less opportunities to play in a well-equipped piano practice room. Gyms, swimming pools, libraries, and computer labs will still be easily accessible in the future, but these lovely piano practice rooms will only be part of my memory. Undergraduate study only lasts for four years. Not short, but it isn’t long enough for me to squander. I will devote the best time of my life to things that are the most beautiful in my mind.

Of course, there are more opportunities to hear music and play music, and sometimes I have different feelings.

For example, there is a grand piano at the parlors of Parrish Hall. I seldom find anyone playing that piano, probably because there are many students resting or studying at the parlors. The parlors were a paradise for students living in dorms without air conditioner during heat waves, so I understand the need for study and rest there. Long quiet hours also make playing that piano unlikely. But indeed, I once heard people playing on that piano. It was an amazing experience.

I love music at Swat. Swat has great musicians, and Swat has great musical instruments. But sometimes I find “music” here annoying.  My dorm’s breakfast room also has a piano. Although we have quite hours, this rule is sometimes broken. I prefer to sleep early, so when I heard someone playing the piano at 11 p.m., I was annoyed. Music is generally good for us, but it can be noisy if it is played in the wrong place or at the wrong time.

Playing music here is quite different from my previous experience. When I was in high school, I’d practice playing the piano at home. Sometimes I felt guilty when my “music” was not pleasing to the ear. I was also careful of music selection then. I would not pick songs that were too famous. Even if I made a lot of mistakes, no one would know. There was also a public piano in the lounge of my high school, but I was also nervous when playing there. If I received negative comments about my performance, I would feel bad. With sound-proof practice rooms at Lang Music Building, I don’t need to worry about these any more. I just play whatever I like, neglecting everything outside, except the vibrant Crum Woods.

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