Artist Spotlight: Anna Patchin Schmidt

Anna Patchin Schmidt is a musician and writer who has been quietly propelling her work throughout her time here at Lawrence. An excellent oboist and a recently published poet, Anna has shown the delicate beauty of the marriage of two art forms. Here are a few words from this humble yet accomplished Lawrence artist.Where are you from and what is your major?
I’m from Alexandria, Va. – a suburb of Washington, D.C. – and my majors are in oboe performance and English, with teaching certifications in English and ESL.

How long have you been playing music and writing?
I’ve been taking some form of music lessons since I was six, and I started playing the oboe in fourth grade. I really only officially began writing poetry this year, but I’ve always been the sort of person who writes things everywhere and all the time – on scraps of paper, crumpled up receipts, notebooks – only to find them years later and promptly throw them away.

How do you feel your studies in music and English compliment each other?
Honestly, this is something I have struggled with throughout my time at Lawrence. There have been times when I’ve felt more like a musician than an English major, and vice versa. Recently, I have tried to integrate these two sometimes unrelated aspects of my life. Last summer, I did the Urban Education Program in Chicago and I taught a lesson to a class of middle schoolers where I played Mozart on my oboe as an extension of a guided reading activity. It was a triumphant moment for me, not only because the students were so engaged, but because I finally realized that music is a valuable resource to even the “non-musical” pursuits in my life. I also gave a recital last weekend and read poetry between each piece of music.

What do you hope to accomplish with music?
I go back and forth on this issue, but realistically, even if I never play the oboe again after college – hypothetically speaking … in case someone was about to get mad at me – I hope that my experiences with music in college will simply broaden the creative framework that I have to pull from in my future endeavors as a teacher, whether that means actually playing music or just thinking about something in a different way. And that isn’t just a bunch of idealistic nonsense to me anymore, I actually believe it.

You were recently published in the Double Reed Society magazine. Could you tell us a little about that?
First of all, it isn’t a joke … though you’re welcome to laugh – I did. I wrote a poem for a poetry writing class last term called “Oboe G10170,” and it’s about my oboe. The poem is in four sections, each of which looks at the oboe from a different perspective. A certain oboe professor and a certain flute professor liked my poem and thought it should get published somewhere, or so the story goes. I’ve written a bunch of other poems, but since they have absolutely nothing to do with the oboe, they’ll probably never get published.

What are your future plans, either near or distant, with regards to music and/or writing?
I’m working on a lesson plan right now for middle schoolers called “Music is Poetry,” so that’s my most recent plot to unite all my interests. Next fall I’ll be student teaching in English and ESL so I’ll have plenty of opportunities to try out some more ideas. Also, I have this dream that someday very soon I’ll finally graduate from college and find that after five years of overloading, I suddenly have spacious amounts of time to sit around writing poetry.