Monday, October 22, 2012

Guest Blog Post - Nothing Gold Can Stay - Kate Harris

This week's blog post is by Simpson College Music alumna Kate Harris. Ms. Harris sang in many of the vocal ensembles during her time here and is currently teaching English at Centro de Lenguas y Estudios in Granada, Spain, an academy that serves both children and adults.

Nothing Gold Can Stay
by Kate Harris

“I can’t eat lunch with you today; I have a lesson.”  
“Where have you been?”  
“But it’s 8:30 on Saturday night.”  
“I’ll meet you at Pfeiffer later—it’s a band day.” 
“Mu Phi don’t bother me, Mu Phi don’t bother me!”  
“Good Lord, how many recitals do we have to go to this semester?” 
“Look at the list!  We’re going to be in Convo forever!!”

These are the familiar choruses heard up and down the hallways, lobby, and Cold Lounge of the Amy Robertson Music building.  We’ve all heard them, we’ve all uttered them.  However, what you may not realize is that you are currently in the Golden Age of your music career.  This is the time when you have the opportunity to study with the most talented and brightest minds of the music world (professional opera singers, featured musicians in the magazine Saxophone Journal, a Phantom of the Opera star (who was also in the Miss America pageant), composers, Poe enthusiasts, and even a professor who wrote his own opera).  Not only do you have the opportunity to study under the best professors, but you have the opportunity to study with some of the most talented students.  You are one of those students.  You should count yourself lucky to study with them, and they should count themselves lucky to study with you.  While at Simpson, students have composed operas, requiems, attended out-of-state instrumental conventions, performed at the Lyric, and given hour-long recitals while being full-time teachers in k-12 districts (all of you music education majors know how stressful that is!). 

In this musical Golden Age, you have the advantage of studying difficult music every day in lessons, band, instrumental ensembles, and choirs.  The level of music you rehearse is rigorous, demanding, and, come performance time, absolutely worth the emotional roller coaster of learning music well.  It is astounding to listen to and to perform a finished product after months of dedication and rehearsal.  Music is your passion.  You have many professors encouraging you daily to practice your passion and hone the talent you already possess and many peers that give you the same encouragement (sometimes reminiscent of Cold War tactics, but it still propels you to practice, does it not?).  As you stare graduation in the face, spectators around you shout words they perceive as helpful:  

“You can always join a community choir!”   
“My community band is excellent—you would really like it!”  
“Music is something you can take with you wherever you go!” 

Let me tell you this, my fellow musicians, Robert Frost says it best in his title poem: “Nothing gold can stay.”  Your Golden Age ends when you reach out and take that diploma.  It seems unfair to be finally be given the seal of approval that commemorates your passion, while at the same moment be ripped from the opportunity to work with the best and the brightest musicians.  It will not be the same.  Community band, choir, glee clubs… They are enjoyable, but they do not replace the level of musical study you receive at Simpson College. 

I had not anticipated this upon graduation.  The realization slapped me in the face the fall after I graduated when I sat idly by on my computer reading Facebook statuses proclaiming the outcome of the opera list,  the frustrations of rehearsals, etc.  I yearned for another lesson, another choir rehearsal.  I even missed Convo.  I missed hearing my peers perform and witnessing the accomplishments made in the practice rooms and in Lekberg, Harris and Duncan Halls.  Even after a year and a half, I still miss the opportunities that were taken for granted during my own Golden Age. 

My advice for you is to live the admittedly cliché phrase carpe diem.  Seize the day, seize the music.  Know that the end is near, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the music around you.  My final comment is to, during your four years as a part of the Simpson Music Department, “stay golden, Pony Boy.”

Nature's first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf's a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay.
--Robert Frost

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