For my historiography interview, I interviewed a high school student who gave great insight into the typical day of a high school student who was also involved in a solid music program. There was a lot of information which I had expected and knew about the life of young casual musicians. However, there were some things that surprised me and some aspects to her experience that I was not expecting.
The first thing that surprised me is the fact that neither her, nor her friends, went outside of their school for musical experiences. This would not necessarily be such a surprise except for the fact that the school is Princeton High School and less than a mile away is the McCarter Theatre and Princeton University with numerous musical performances and opportunities. Other opportunities for music lie in the American Boy Choir and Princeton Girl Choir, which are also very close to the school. Finally, the Westminster Choir College of Rider University is literally across the street from the high school. With all of this exposure to music available at such a close proximity, it is very interesting that none of the musical students that my interviewee knows explores these options.
The next interesting piece of information that I did not know was the presence of a cappella music in the school. Student run organizations can are much harder to organize and run than a typical choir. Having a designated leader helps to avoid conflicts and is much more effective in organization and learning knowledge. At Princeton High School, on the other hand, they have four a cappella groups and all of them are student run. The idea of just one student run group in a school seems impressive enough, but having four is truly impressive.
After all of the surprising facts about the high school environment, it was very informative to just focus on one student. Going through school, I knew that I wanted to follow music and it gave a different insight into that environment by talking to someone who knew that they would not follow music. She was involved in the choruses because she genuinely enjoyed the combined singing and camaraderie. When asked if she considered herself a musician, she replied that she did think she was a musician and would take music with her for the rest of her life. Becoming a professional musician was just not in her interests and she had clear goals in mind.
The information about the musical life in the school and the supposed “bubble” is helpful towards an understanding of the experiences which comprise the average casual musician. Music in Princeton is strong but it has the opportunity to be much stronger if the students in the school district take the time to explore other musical aspects the town has to offer.