Childhood Memories Friday: Accompanying at IU

Childhood Memories Friday

This week, I visited my alma mater with my oldest daughter, for a Red Carpet Day.

IU Memorial Union

I’ve written before about how odd it feels to walk the environs of a campus you last lived on thirty years ago. It inspires all types of reflections, on how you thought life would turn out, and how it actually did, and about people you hadn’t thought of for years.

One of my thoughts: my hugest memories of my college years have nothing to do with the major I ended up with.

IU music practice building

My reverie began as we walked past this building. It was built during my years on campus. It’s a music practice building: basically full of cubicle-sized rooms, most (well, at least the ones I frequented) with just a piano.

There was a paper posted outside each room, and you could sign up for a time to use the room. I did this frequently, sometimes to practice music for the lesson of a student whose lessons I accompanied, and sometimes just for the enjoyment of playing. It was  a great stress-reliever and way to escape the never-ending studying, or to find a bit of sorely-needed solitude. For an introvert, living in a dorm full of people was often a bigger challenge than classwork.

IU music school

Later in the day, I walked past the music school with my Dad. My memories of this place aren’t confined to my college years. My piano teacher had us compete in Federation contest here each year, and to this day, walking into this building gives me a stomachache. But … I felt compelled to peek inside, once again … I told Dad to take a few minutes sitting on a stone ledge, which he didn’t mind.

Come on …

IU music school


accompanying at IU

First thing I noticed was a bulletin board, and on that board, a homemade sign advertising an accompanist. More memories: I made several of those signs (granted, using a typewriter), and posted them in the music school. Much of my college financing came through my earnings as a piano accompanist for IU voice students. I may have spent more hours in the music school, playing piano, than I did in my own classes. Yet I didn’t even minor in music.  I enrolled in a single music class, one semester of piano. Having a  stereotypically “intense” Asian grad student instructor cured me of any desire to continue those.

But oh, the experiences I garnered accompanying at IU. I learned to sightread quite well, in genres ranging from Broadway to classical — a skill that still is valuable to me. I played for all kinds of lessons, from the business major taking voice with a grad student as an elective to the music major, studying with Mr. or Ms. big-name professor with the lounge-like studio boasting opera posters starring themselves, performed all over Europe. It was kind of like traveling without a passport. Often those instructors were crazy-eccentric (as I suppose great talents often are). Once, the instructor didn’t care for my style of playing, and instructed me to peel him an apple while HE played for “the boy.” Ohhhh-kay, then.

IU Music School Recital Hall doors

Just inside the entrance, the lowly doors to Recital Hall. They don’t look like much, but through these doors lies the venerable hall where many music school senior recitals are held. And, of course, the Federation Contest “Honors Recital” which I attended for years. You never knew whether you’d been chosen to perform in this until they called your name. Mine was called exactly once — right after a young Joshua Bell performed (yes, that Joshua Bell). Gulp. Stomach in a pretzel.

On this particular day, it was fitting that I could hear ridiculously difficult piano music emanating from the hall. I walked around a bit, feeling free that I no longer had any need to feel nervous here (although I still did, slightly — ingrained habits are hard to break).

IU music school recital hall

I knew it was time to head back out into the sunshine. But first, I peeked through the recital hall door window at the guy playing, and mentally wished him well. There will always be songs to be played, and I hoped he’d enjoy those allotted to him.

5 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Accompanying at IU

  1. What an emotional look back. I can tell that day gave you a lot of reflecting.
    Now it’s time for the next generation in your family to begin her Indiana University adventures. Wouldn’t it be fun to see what she’ll write, looking back, thirty years from now?

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed your day.

    Some of my most memorable events were linked to my days working in the student health service at Cedarville, since I did that my senior year. I was already an RN when I got to college, so I worked as a nurse during my junior and senior years. My junior year was not so pleasant, as I worked nights on Friday and Saturday, driving to the nearest town where I worked in the hospital. But my senior year I lived and worked in the student health facility. There are many adventures I could share about those days! And most of them are pleasant. I only wish I had known then what I know now.

  3. Great memories. I love your Friday posts.I shared your horror of dorm living. I began to love IU when I got a single room my sophomore year and then moved off campus my junior year. I feel very nostalgic when I’m on the campus–especially near Woodburn Hall where political science has it’s home (my major). I still love the library-I never bothered with the Undergraduate side or the dorm libraries. That is my real “IU” home though I never went there to study–it was all frat boys in the evening. I usually spent part of the day there and worked a lot in the cafeteria where I could have a coke as I worked.

  4. This is a great post, Susan! I didn’t know about the famous people that you have accompanied. Very interesting! And I DO know your point about how exciting it is to go back to your alma mater and feel kind of young again, because that always happens to me when I return to Huntington University or Ball State University where I received my G/T endorsement. College campuses are always inspirational to me.

Comments are closed.