OPINION: Stick with the arts

The K-State Drag Show in McCain Auditorium on Feb. 3, 2017. (File photo by Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

When I attended high school in Palco, Kansas, I had the unique opportunity to be involved in almost everything I could.

Palco High School is tiny: graduating-in-a-class-of-six tiny. The yearbook staff and the choir had less than 10 students involved each. It was easy to take advantage of the space and be extremely involved.

Because of my heavy extracurricular involvement in high school, I was warned not to spread myself too thin when I came to Kansas State. Extracurricular activities would not be as easy to manage in college. That is true. Try not to bite off more than you can chew. But I offer one piece of advice for new students: stick with the arts.

After playing in bands ranging from six to 225 pieces, I was ready to take my clarinet to K-State. Music led me to great friends, memorable experiences and helped me grow as a person. I wanted to continue my involvement.

I was interested in the marching band. The Kansas State University Marching Band is one of the best college bands in the nation, plus both of my high school music teachers recommended I try it. But with my focus on academics and commitment to other activities, I decided marching band would be a little too much.

Instead, I opted to be in women’s choir for two hours a week with Julie Yu, co-director of choral studies, for my first two semesters. Then, I played bass clarinet in the non-audition university band last spring.

My point is that you should find a way to express your musical self (or artistic self or theatrical self) in a way that is fulfilling but not distracting from your other responsibilities.

Do not shy away from opportunities to audition or be involved just because you are not an art student or vocal performance major. What made me feel connected to the 40-50 other women in women’s choir was the fact that more half of the room was not enrolled in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

University band is non-audition because it is meant for music education majors. Older students get to conduct the ensemble. Some students picked up new instruments to master. (The first tuning note in a band of new players is wonderfully awful.) However, there were a handful of non-music students like me participating because they wanted to be part of a flexible, learning-centered ensemble.

Do not be afraid to ask questions to get where you need to be. Need an instrument? Visit the department office to see what you can rent; I rented a bass clarinet for my semester of band.

Loved forensics in high school? K-State has those teams. Email the faculty in charge. If I have learned anything about the people at K-State, it is that they will help students with most anything.

Staying in touch with music has been one of the most rewarding choices in my first year of college. My one hour of choir on Mondays and Wednesdays was time I could spend releasing my stress and focusing on myself. It was a great way to distract myself from stressful schoolwork and take a productive break.

Though I cannot say much about theatre or other arts since I primarily practice music and poetry performance, one of the highlights about the arts is the people you meet while involved. I met new connections in university band, especially when I was one of the few non-music majors in the ensemble. I even knew one of the music education students in my ensemble from high school band camp. University band is also how I met my boyfriend, another English major.

Your time at K-State is a chance for you to invest in your future. Obviously, this includes your education and training you will need for your career and livelihood later on, but the people you surround yourself with and the hobbies you participate in will have an impact on your personal life.

If you are an artist, stick to what you do. You will not regret it.

Dene Dryden is a sophomore in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

I'm Dene Dryden, and I graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor's of Arts in English. Before graduating, I worked at the Collegian for more than three years as a copy chief, managing editor and editor-in-chief. I also served a term on the Collegian Media Group Board of Directors. While at K-State, I also worked at Wildcat 91.1 FM. My cat Robyn is the light of my life, and I take compliments in the form of coffee.