Be A Beginner

I have always loved trying new things, and during my first couple years at Amherst, I very easily found opportunities for newness: new friends, new home, new areas of study, new study nooks, new restaurants, new clubs—the list goes on and on. However, this year, as a junior, I found that everything was already set and mostly familiar. Most of my classes are for my majors, most of my activities I have enjoyed since my first year, and silly things like the food and the six levels of Frost are becoming increasingly familiar. I knew that if I could not find something new to try out this year, I was going to go crazy.

This year, Amherst’s music department has updated its policy on taking lessons. Now students can take beginner, intermediate, or advanced lessons for a half-credit if they take one full-credit music class to supplement their lessons, either taken that same semester or the following semester. Once a student has taken that one full-credit music course, he or she is free to take lessons for the remainder of his or her Amherst career, without taking any more music courses (though the music courses here are great and you should definitely consider taking more!) There is a fee of $720 associated with taking lessons (boils down to less than $10 a lesson), but if a student receives any need-based scholarship assistance from Amherst, that fee is waived. That’s right—it could be possible for you to receive free lessons, no matter how much experience on a given instrument you have. Are you dying now to know your options? Here is a comprehensive list:



Jazz Piano


Jazz Voice






French Horn



Classical Guitar

Jazz Guitar

String Bass




Jazz Bass











Choral Conducting

Orchestra Conducting

Choral Ensemble

Jazz Ensemble

Orchestra Performance

Chamber Music Performance


When I was in fourth grade choosing an instrument to learn for school band, I chose the harp. However, my school did not offer harp, so I chose flute instead. I loved the flute, but there was always part of me that wished I had been able to try out the harp. Last semester, my childhood dream came true! I start most of my mornings now in Room 3 of Arms, practicing my harp. My semester ended in a studio performance in which I was the only beginner instrumentalist, but hey, I had a blast. I hope soon there will be more people taking advantage of this amazing policy, more beginners up on stage. Learning something new is good for the soul, especially at this point in life. It’s even an option to try a new instrument each year.


There’s a harp owned by Amherst in Room 3 that is sadly only being utilized by me. Go out of your comfort zone for a semester and learn to play!