A Musical Journey
Jordan Couceyro, ’20, Arts & Sciences
Even though I’ve played piano since I was a kid, I’ve never really considered myself a musician. I’m not sure exactly why – I was fairly decent, and I really liked playing. I loved learning about and playing a wide variety of different styles, from classical to jazz to pop and even the unique jaunt of Jewish folk songs. I picked up more instruments as I got older: oddities like the melodica and harmonica, and a ukulele so that I could work on singing. I even joined marching band in high school and became a drum major. Senior year hits, and as all the other drum majors and band captains went on to audition for different conservatories, I stuck to my guns. Not that majoring in music determined whether I was a musician, but I felt like it just wasn’t the path for me.
On the other hand, I considered myself much more than just somebody who played the piano. I loved learning other instruments and listened to music near-constantly. Music was and is an indispensable part of my life, even if I spent my time studying metabolic pathways instead of improvisation techniques. Part of what made Vanderbilt so alluring was the fact that I could easily make music a part of my life here: we’re in Music City after all.
I started off taking jazz piano lessons and taking a 1-credit performance class in Blair’s jazz department. For the first time, I was able to learn from professional jazz musicians instead of my high school band director and YouTube videos. I felt as technically skilled as I had ever been and was comfortable enough to improv in all sorts of styles. The enjoyment of playing in a small combo encouraged me to look for more people to play with and even led to me meeting a close group of friends early on in my first year. The simple fact that every Commons House had a practice room helped me find people to make music with and led to me finding the most incredible people who I still live with today.
One of these friends happened to be involved in a lot of the theater organizations here, and he quickly convinced me to play in the pit orchestra. I loved being part of a big production, and the community of the organization welcomed me with open arms. I began to explore even more, just as I had back when I was first playing the piano. I went from being a hired musician to an accompanist and Sound Designer for a show and got to learn about everything that goes into making the aural atmosphere of a show come to life.
I don’t think that I would have had the chances to engage with music anywhere else. Not only have I had so many opportunities to explore different aspects of the thing I love, but I’ve been welcomed and encouraged to grow every step of the way. I even became involved with a service organization that uses or engages in music to help children with disabilities, and as of today serve as the president of it. I want to use this organization to help spread music’s power to both the Nashville and Vanderbilt communities. Today I stand at one of the final steps of this journey: I want to start my own performance organization to offer all kinds of students a low-commitment and low-pressure opportunity to perform and make music a part of their lives – regardless of whether or not they consider themselves musicians.