I love playing the piano and guitar. I love singing. I’m very grateful that my experience with music has given me a really strong sense of pitch which lets me hear potential harmonies very easily. Music is not just something I enjoy listening to. It lives in my bones. I would cease to exist without it.
For my application to Dartmouth College (way back in 1995), the prompt was something like “If you could only ask one question to someone you didn’t know in the hopes of finding out everything you needed to know about them, what would that question be? And now, answer your own question.” My question was “If you had to choose between being blind and deaf, which would it be?”
I went on to explain my musical background and talked about how I could not imagine living without being able to hear music (or people’s voices). Eventually, I got wait-listed at Dartmouth. And I ended up choosing not to go there. I had applied because being a good Asian-American meant that I had to try going to Ivy League colleges. Instead, I chose to go to what was known at the time as the ultimate Ivy League reject school. And I have never regretted it.
But, speaking of regrets, that’s what initially got me started on writing this post. I was just listening to the wonderful score to Cloud Atlas and my only tangible life regret came rushing back. I wish I had tried to play more classical instruments before college, specifically the oboe, french horn, and cello. I have known a handful of people who played (or still play) these instruments. I used to play the trumpet, and was pretty good at it until I got braces. Since then, I have always wanted to play an instrument that wasn’t struck by hammers, plucked, or strummed. Something that could generate a long note that didn’t fade away unless you stopped blowing into it or until the length of the bow ran out.
I wonder if there’s another life that I could have lived. One in which I kept pursuing music in a more classical sense. I could be happy being in an orchestra in order to make a living. But that dream probably died when I started listening to a lot of electronic music in junior high school. I kind of shunned the more traditional aspects of music for many years, but that’s also when I fell in love with playing the “keyboard” as opposed to the “piano.” So, no regrets that keep me up at night. But I still dream about it sometimes.