Don’t Leave Your Tuba at Home: A Case for the Classical Instrument

After years of dedication, numerous recitals, and endless hours of practice, it turns out you may not be the next Yo-Yo Ma. That doesn’t mean you should end your musical career just yet. Remember, you once wanted to play because it was fun and it still can be fun! I promise. After high school many students let their tuba or clarinet (or insert relevant instrument here) collect dust in the closet back at home, but there are plenty of reasons to keep playing.

Join an On-Campus Group
Almost all colleges have informal clubs or groups centered around playing. Many groups perform and even get paid playing at small events. Everyone can use a little extra money, and why not earn it doing something you already enjoy. Not only do these groups give you a reason to continue learning and practicing, they also are great for meeting other students. Chances are you can meet other like-minded students who want to swap a few band related stories or just hang out outside of the group.

Play for Yourself
It’s about time you did something crazy, play for yourself- not your teacher, your parents, or your peers. Over the course of high school a lot of people get burnt out, focusing so much on what they need to play and not what they want to. It’s easy to forget to relax and enjoy your instrument. Pick out your favorite songs and take the time to relearn them. There’s no pressure and no need to have everything perfect. You can even skip the parts you like least. And now that you don’t have to worry about a band director picking out the next piece, you can decide for yourself what you want to pursue next, be it Beethoven or Bieber.

Step outside your comfort zone. Try learning a new style of music altogether or join a band that’s looking to add a classical instrument into their repertoire. Thanks to the explosion of indie and folk bands (which don’t mind including all sorts of instruments) you could be using your flute to trade licks with a guitarist. It doesn’t matter what you try, just that you put yourself in a new situation that’s. It will be challenging and exciting. You may realize you have a passion for alt-country-folk-rock-jazz-fusion or some such genre that you had never tried before.

Give Lessons
You could make a little money on the side while also meeting new people, if you advertised that you were giving lessons. Try posting up flyers in your dorm and student center that market your abilities. Maybe even make the first lesson free, that way you’ll be bound to drum up interest. Teaching the instrument may give you better insight into your own playing, as teaching is often a step toward mastery. Making a little bit of money on top just sweetens the deal too. Or if you wanted you could just teach a friend for free. It might be a good alternative way to spend a lazy sunday afternoon.

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Ryan Schapals

Ryan Schapals

Ryan Schapals is a senior at DePaul University studying Creative Writing and Psychology. Outside of class, Ryan can be found working in the Pysch Lab or at a local health clinic. When he's not distracted by cat videos, he tries to balance his time between playing guitar, writing prose, and running around the soccer field.