By Brandon Callender
In Paul Cuadros’ A Home On The Field, the members of the Los Jets soccer team often listened to music on the way to and from games. The music that these athletes absorbed came from their parents and other Hispanic associates/friends, and in some way the music allowed them to become closer friends than if they had not been listening to the same types of music.
Upon entering the gleaming doors of Granville Towers, I found the lobby atmosphere to be overwhelming. After being greeted by the two whom I would eventually come to know as my counselors for the duration of the camp, I took the elevator upstairs. Confused and wandering the floor, I somehow eventually ended up outside Room 2824. I could feel the seconds tick by as I paced around the room wondering if I would even have a roommate. I had already met a fellow participant and soon found out he would be in a room alone.
Eventually, another face – three to be precise – appeared in my room. After his parents had departed, I began speaking with the person I would be living with for the next four days. For me, that is no simple task. When introducing myself to people, I stumble over words and quickly become embarrassed, all the while running out of topics. But… there seemed to be some sort of mythical force in effect.
Almost instantaneously, we began talking about what kinds of music we enjoyed. I soon found myself laughing, discussing various hip-hop artists with him. Our conversation steadily chugged its way along as we slowly learned more about each other. We found ourselves leaping from conversations about our favorite artists, to beginning an uproar of laughter when joking about certain artists who indulge themselves in yelling into microphones.
The same thoughts that I had after reading A Home On The Field returned to me. Was music the topic that allowed me to quickly connect with my roommate? Unconsciously, I found myself repeating the same behavior our second night together in the frosty, yet welcoming eighth-floor lounge of Granville Towers.
I have always found it hard to speak to new people – not because I am intimidated but because I simply do not know anything about them. How could I possibly bring something up that they have some interest in while just talking about the hobbies I have which are typically seen as weird? In the lounge filled with people whom I had not met prior to this workshop, I found myself able to talk to them as if I had known them for years while we were all discussing music. Once again, my feelings after completing A Home On The Field rushed in. Much like the boys listening to rancheras on the bus on the way to a game, discussing hip-hop, pop punk, and folk rock with my peers in the lounge allowed me to break out of my shell.
Even while writing, I find myself distracted discussing folk-punk bands like Andrew Jackson Jihad and new wave bands like the Talking Heads. Thankfully, after interviewing others in computer lab while they all hacked away at their personal writing assignments, I found some insight as to why people can use music as a way to “break the ice,” as suggested by one of my fellow Chuck Stone scholars.
Professor Michael Yopp, while not a professor of music, passed to me a wise tidbit of information, which would knock down the ideas I had about music being just something people enjoy. Yopp humbly offered: “Solar systems all revolve around a central entity […] music is like this, and it draws people together.” Music allows for people of different backgrounds to connect through a tune they share. An enharmonic, which are notes that share the same pitch (or tone) yet have different names, exists in music. Everyone here at the Chuck Stone Program can be compared to an enharmonic: We come from extremely different backgrounds, but when discussing music, we all can find a tone we share.