Language | Teen Ink


October 29, 2008
By jessica_wave GOLD, Corona, California
jessica_wave GOLD, Corona, California
12 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I could identify the four types of sonnets as Shakespearean, Edwardian, Spencerian, and Petrarchan, elaborate on the Modernist works of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, analyze the epic poems of the ancient Greeks and recite the great Walt Whitman, but on my first day of choir class I learned of my illiteracy.

Sharps or flats, bass clefs or treble clefs, rhythms or rests, half notes or whole notes- I wouldn’t know the difference if it tapped me on the shoulder.

The art of language consumed me from childhood. I wrote poetry on the sidewalks with colored chalk, etched couplets into my school desks when no one was looking, but learning to read and understand music introduced me to a set of vocabulary entirely new to my ears. I struggled through, but I learned it. I’m still learning.

My love for music and literature revealed to me perhaps the most vital knowledge on my quest to finding myself: I stand on a precipice, in one direction lies the artistic ambiguity which shapes me- a limitless, irrational, often quixotic outlook on life; and in the other direction I plunge headfirst into the callous boundaries of structure and formula and deadlines. In balancing my two passions, I find equilibrium.

As a student, I initially thrived on structure. I knew all the essay formats I needed to know; I knew the quadratic formula; I knew the law of conservation of matter and energy. As a junior and vice president of the choir program I conducted rehearsals, held officer meetings, and reveled in the successes of our concerts and competitions. As a senior and editor of the school newspaper I know all the rules of AP style, how to invent gripping headlines and hooks, and I meet the required deadlines.

However, I have realized that mastering routine cannot equal following my heart’s instincts. So I try and take comfort in rebellion, in song and the written word. And in the midst of mundane procedure, I try to liberate my soul from my mind, pick up a pen, hum a familiar melody. I try every day to trace my roots back to when writing meant scribbling in notebooks, and not desperately typing away in a word processing program at eleven at night, to when I didn’t care to identify the key of a song or the style in which it’s intended and I just sang. True artistic freedom- when I sang just to sing and wrote just to write.

So the confused freshman in the choir classroom grew up. I not only learned the rules, but more importantly, when to break them. I found my voice on paper and I found it again in an auditorium full of people. Whether it’s the language of music, the English language or the language on a college campus, I am fluent, and I am more than ready to apply my self-knowledge and my high school experiences to my impending adulthood. I’m not only ready to progress, I’m ready to crescendo into a new stage of my life.

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