What does flying a rocket and getting a date with an Eastman School of Music student have in common? Obviously, quite a lot. Unless you’re a seasoned professional, you’re quite likely to crash and burn.

From personal experience, I can tell you that finding a date at Eastman can certainly be a grim prospect, daunting to all. Over the course of a program of study, cynicism often sets in and standards are progressively lowered until they seem both humorous and bizarre.

When asked what they were looking for in a potential date, several of my colleagues gave a variety of fascinating responses.

“Reasonably interesting and reasonably nice,” doctoral candidate Joshua Millard said, as he opened his seventh beer. “I know it’s asking a lot, but age, attractiveness and even gender doesn’t seem to matter that much after a few years in an Eastman practice room – though I do think a good performance of Mozart is hot, hot, hot.”

Other students were more pragmatic in terms of the standard conservatory offerings. “I like guys that have perfect pitch,” graduate student Nicole Marane said. “It’s very sexy to have your date spontaneously identify the humming of the lights with, say, an A-sharp.” She began to pound out jarring dissonances on her organ.

Responses were varied regarding personal approaches to dating.

“I love it here at Eastman,” a graduate student was overheard saying in a practice room. “First, I always, always go for singers. It’s easy. First you have to buy them something to eat. Then you have to tell them you like their voice, even if you don’t really. If they’re particularly difficult, I’ll tell them I’ve fallen in love with them because of their singing. That works every single time.” He preened in front of the full-length mirror and patted his hair.

Doctoral candidate Sylvia Alajaji angrily expressed a contrasting point of view. “I don’t have time for it,” Alajaji said. “First of all, I can’t stand the postmodern men that inhabit this institution like the deconstructionist pigs of the 80s. Secondly, I can’t find anyone at Eastman who is ripped like Vin Diesel – not even the medieval scholars.”

According to local legend, a support group has sprung up in response to the unmitigated horrors of the Eastman dating scene. This group of students, calling themselves Stop Trying to Date, espouses taking pledges of abstinence until graduation.

“We are a group devoted to staying celibate,” graduate student Marc Anderson said, the alleged leader. “We transcend all religious, social and instrumental categories. Basically, we feel that there is an inadequate gene pool here at Eastman, and we don’t feel comfortable reproducing with fellow musicians for fear of creating child prodigies who subsequently go insane – or worse yet, deviant jazz musicians.”

He added that the STD group meets on Friday and Saturday nights and often attends the bingo events at a local elementary school.

In the final analysis, dating at Eastman is like performing with a singer. Things are often just a little bit off. Trust me.

LaBlanc can be reached at llablanc@campustimes.org.

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