Monday was Veteran’s Day. I didn’t know that until one of my friends used it as an excuse for not going to class. Come to think of it, I was wondering what the American flag in the Monday spot of the 5-day forecast was for. I had meant to look it up, but I didn’t. I had to practice.

Did you know that midterm elections were last Tuesday? New Yorkers voted for their governor, and I have no idea who won. I would have looked it up, but I didn’t. I had to write a slew of counterpoint exercises and couldn’t be bothered by such trivial matters.

I’ve always been told that musicians are a self-centered lot. I used to dismiss that as a stereotype that only, like the grand majority of musical stereotypes, applied to Juilliard people.

Before I came here, I had regarded Eastman as something different, a musical utopia where everyone was enormously talented but, unlike the stereotypes, had at least some awareness of life outside of the practice room.

As the school year has worn on, however, my myth has been proven untrue many times over. Don’t get me wrong ? Eastman is a great school. It’s just that, frankly, I’m floored by how single-minded musicians really are. Did you know there are people who have never had to sight-sing in their entire lives? Imagine that.

Can you believe that some of these people hold prominent positions in business, the non-musical arts and government? The decisions that these people make may, in the long run, even affect our lives more than those of our theory professor. Perhaps we should pay a little attention to what’s going on with them.

Now I’m exaggerating a little, and what I say does not apply to everyone at Eastman, but when I hear someone say, “Wait, we might be using weapons against Iraq?” I feel that there is some cause for concern.

In my first few days here, I remember hearing Eastman referred to as a parallel universe. I’ll buy that, but must this universe include a black hole that keeps us hidden from all knowledge of people other than those in our immediate vicinity? I don’t think that it has to be.

Unlike a black hole, we have the ability to remove ourselves from Eastman. It does take some effort, though, and it is easy to get sucked back in again. I thought that I would never fall victim to this self-centeredness, but now I realize that I know a great deal more about the current state of my cuticles than I know about the current state of affairs.

It’s not just the lack of general knowledge of current affairs that has me perturbed. Maybe it’s just my Midwestern roots talking, but basic respect for others seems to be at a minimum. The students here can be very nice, but many people seem to be so consumed by their own agenda that they barely even notice that other people are there.

The room in the basement of the main hall, where all of the instrument lockers are located, has so many blind corners that it is like a constant game of bumper cars, and I hardly ever hear anyone say “excuse me,” when they run into someone else.

In fact, I never hear anyone say anything at all. The colliding bodies just continue on their way, eyes fixed straight ahead, like nothing happened. I find myself apologizing when other people have run into me because my presence has disrupted their beeline path toward wherever they’re going.

Here’s another qualm of mine ? what ever happened to saying hello? I always thought that if I am approaching somebody I have had a conversation with or see on a regular basis, I should greet him or her.

I don’t mean to sound like Miss Manners here, but I’m a bit disturbed when my greetings are met with blank stares. Obviously everyone is busy, but it only takes a second to say hello, help someone carry something or to hold a door. A guy held the door for me the other day, and I just stood there for a second, dumbfounded. I had grown so accustomed to running at doors before they slammed in my face that I didn’t know how to react.

I’ve always been told that music is a singular profession, but many people take it to excess. Instead of scoffing at the thought of those dastardly humanities courses, relish in the fact that you will be a better-educated and more well-rounded individual for having taken them. With a school as career-focused as Eastman, it can be very easy for someone to close herself off and not notice what’s going on outside of the music world.

The truth of the matter is that the music world isn’t the only world waiting for us outside of Eastman. At the risk of using a clich, there is a real world out there, and we will eventually have to live in it. Until then, let’s dispel the stereotypes and prove that musicians are people too.



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