The power of music is exactly proportional to the community it engenders. We’ve heard it said that music is a universal language, that it has the power to heal, that it can bring people together. If truth and beauty are what we seek as human beings, these are very beautiful truths that we as artists get to play with and let transform our writing, our work, our mindfulness, and our very lives.
“To think I came to Sterling to get away from it all.” Sterling students from 1965 all the way to present day have been seeding the soil with jumping roots, blessed with the sound of music. Here is a quick “thank you” note for one of the most basic, important, and traditional human tendencies you’ll find here on campus.
To the blue-eyed bundle of joy sitting next to me tapping his feet in a polyrhythmic beat with his pencil- thank you for swinging me around through the melodies of local musicians at a contra dance. (Every other weekend for the Sterling crowd!)
To the clapping hands and humming mouths in the food line, thank you for coordinating round-singing every Friday night after dinner.
To the harmonies mingling on cushy couches late into the night.
To the spoon-clanking, fiddle-roaring pour of sound coming from the acoustic cavern of Dunbar Hall.
To the “Barn Crew” who got our community all new microphones, mixing board, amplifier, thank you for dropping groovy sax-beats, guitar riffs, and drum rolls.
To the banjo jams in twinkly dorm rooms filled with warm smiles and connected hearts. Never too many banjos!
To the near-monthly concerts by local musicians, Sterling students, or ones from lands far away… thank you for the fresh sounds.
To interview rooms turned-classrooms for teaching fiddle.
To lego and guitar parties in the comfort of beautiful Houston House.
To the talent show where homemade banjo-guitars can be shown and celebrated.
To fires hugged with songs from swaying, happy humans.
Art and music are basic human functions. Humankind and art cannot function without one another. We have the burning desire to create, whatever it may be and however tiny or grand. The interaction with sound is unavoidable, either to make it or take pleasure in it. People have always found music significant in their lives, whether for enjoyment in listening, the emotional response, performing, or creating. There is no difference for classical music, contemporary concert music, and everything up, down, and in between. All music holds an immense worth for our society; In the folk tradition, songs are stories passed down from one generation to the next, vehicles of preservation and expression. Which is a common theme you’ll find here among the farmers, writers, cooks, scientists, adventurers and environmental stewards- all standing in a circle, singing songs with smiles on their faces.
When I was a prospective student, I looked at Sterling and thought, “wow, this school has it all.” Set in a beautifully quaint village at the heart of the North East Kingdom, Sterling’s community encompasses like-minded environmental stewards with tree-hugging-love-giving explorers of life, imagination, hard work, and art.
Rooting from a small town in western Maine, which cradled a vast knowledge, appreciation, and love for music, I knew it was something I needed to carry on with me as I began to form a new definition of “home”. While talking to current students, admission counselors, or the Director of Admission, Tim Patterson, I don’t know how many times I asked the question, “what is the music scene like at Sterling?” or, “could I find a musical community within the greater Sterling community?”. Because I knew this place had it all, I wasn’t surprised when I received a resounding and excited “yes!”. Days after acquiring this knowledge, I sent my application off, and here I am. In my short yet transformative time here at Sterling, I’ve been able to witness and immerse myself in the diverse music culture within this community, both as a musician and a listener.
There’s always someone at the piano in Dunbar Hall, welcoming the community to each meal. Whether it’s Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or minor scales, you’re sure to be tapping your feet with a smile on your face.