Bridging the College Avenue gap

Deborah Levinson

I like the Conservatory as much as the next person. Free concerts, visiting artists and constant culture are all wonderful. And as a student at Lawrence, I have an appreciation for the hard work that goes into getting a degree in music performance or education. A lot of my friends are music students or at least in a choir. They love the Con.
But honestly, I’m tired of being asked what instrument I play or getting that condescending gaze when I tell someone I’m not in the Conservatory and have no involvement in any musical group.
I chose to come to Lawrence because I liked the school. Our Conservatory is a part of what makes Lawrence special, and I’m glad it’s here. We have an endless amount of exposure to the arts and a diverse group of students. Plus there just aren’t that many colleges that have a Conservatory but no graduate school attached.
We should be proud of our Conservatory. And I am proud of the Conservatory. I picked Lawrence and it’s part of what I picked.
However, I often feel, especially when socializing with Con students, that my choice to study another academic subject at Lawrence is less valid or less worthwhile. I recall being told last year that Conservatory students have to work a lot harder to get the same grades as college students.
Maybe this is true. I’ve never taken a class in the Con and probably never will. But it makes it a lot harder for me to sympathize with Conservatory students when I feel I’m being looked down upon. They do work hard, I see it every day. But I work hard too.
I wish that there was more respect for those who choose not to partake in the various programs and ensembles offered in the Con. I made a choice not to pursue music and I’m very happy with that. But now I want other people to see that too. Not everyone needs music to make his or her college experience valuable and fulfilling.
I still take classes, have work and am expected to put in a considerable amount of time outside of class. I may not be getting a single credit for being in an ensemble, but I’m not completely uninvolved in the various organizations on campus – some of which are related to academics or require as much of a time commitment as a musical ensemble.
According to the Lawrence website, I’m not alone in my lack of participation in the Con: only about a quarter of students on campus are in the Conservatory. Yet sometimes it feels like the Conservatory is the school. There are vocalists singing in every hallway of every building. Musical happenings at the café occur regularly.
My goal here is not to see how many people I can offend. But there are students here who just don’t have a vested interest in the Conservatory. My Lawrence experience would be different without the Con, but I also don’t need it to directly shape my education. I would appreciate if more of my peers would see that though the Conservatory is a wonderful piece of Lawrence, it’s not the only important part of a Lawrence education.