I had briefly considered bringing my French horn with me to Japan, but I’ve had some pretty terrible experiences traveling with it in the past and didn’t want to risk any damage to it on the plane. I’d reconciled with the idea of leaving my instruments home for a few months. But I hadn’t realized how much I’d miss music.
Today was club orientation at ICU, and as I considered which clubs I’d like to join, the ones that I was really drawn to were the musical groups. Study abroad is supposed to be all about exploring and realizing your identity, and today I realized that the lack of musical instruments was painful for me: playing music is perhaps the biggest part of myself that I have to offer to the world, and without instruments, I’ve lost that dimension of social experience.
So I timidly asked the wind ensemble if they had instruments… and not only did they say yes, they brought out a French horn for me to play, right there in their booth! I was incredibly excited about playing with that group until they showed me their rehearsal schedule. One thing you have to understand about clubs at Japanese universities is that they take themselves VERY seriously. So the fact that the wind ensemble has 3-hour practices 3 nights a week, plus 6-hour practices on Saturdays, isn’t actually all that unreasonable in context. But it leaves me a little terrified.
I’m thinking of joining the jazz group instead. Their schedule is a little less intense, and really jazz is my favorite kind of music to play. Only problem? That group doesn’t have a horn to lend me. (In fact French horn remains unrecognized by the jazz community at large — the injustice of it all!) So I’m considering learning trumpet: I’ve played a little before, it’s similar to horn, so I’m not too worried. It would certainly count as “trying new things” as part of my experience abroad.
And when I came home tonight, I was chatting with Henry and my other guesthouse friend Li about music when Li mentioned that he has a guitar! He brought it down to the lounge, we played a little, and he offered to let me play whenever I want to. So just like that, in one day, two musical opportunities presented themselves! It feels good to be reconnecting with something that’s so important to me.