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That’s the only way I can describe “Symphony No. 10.” It starts solemnly, the notes anxiously tugging at my heart and straining my mind. Almost instantly, the percussion and bass pull me under intense pulses of melody. My journey with the 10th has begun.

“Breathe together, play together,” my conductor said. To challenge and immerse myself in repertoire, I auditioned for the Mission Peak Wind Symphony, a local audition-based wind band. Over the years, we’ve played collegiate-level music and worked with renowned composers. The highlight of my time, however, was being given the opportunity to perform the piece we had commissioned to composer Andrew Boysen to compose Symphony No. 10. 

The frenzied rhythms lash out and twist my mind. The light-hearted movement “The Innocence of Love” soon fades into the most nightmarish sections of the work. The tempo feverishly accelerates before crashing down in a single explosive climax. A moment of silence offers reprieve, but strains my heart in anticipation of the future. The piece may be chaotic, but there’s an underlying focus on something much more pure. There’s a strange, but definite beauty behind it. I choose to focus on the resilient melody underneath it all. 

Here, I’m reminded of why I’m a musician. My parents divorced when I was 9 years old. As I struggled to balance the growing challenges in my life, music became my support. I could express my thoughts and feelings through simply beautiful strings of notes. To this day, whenever I feel lost, I can find myself through melodies and harmonies I create. Music gives me a sense of agency and a feeling of independence. 

woman and record
Skylar Sahakian

I take great pride in my independence. I’m level-headed, decisive, and most importantly, driven to accomplish anything I set my mind to. 

I was elected to be a Student Coordinator in the Jenny Lin Youth Foundation, a music program that commemorates a young, talented violinist who lost her life. We host music events that benefit East Bay communities by providing concerts and scholarships for young musicians in the name of keeping Jenny’s love for music alive. I have worked closely with Jenny’s parents to plan our annual benefit concert, organize fundraisers, and teach young musicians how to play. I have gained a deeper understanding of music’s profound impact and become someone who can support fellow musicians. Through this program, I have been able to spread my passion for music, and discovered a world that connects people not only from different communities, but in life and death as well.

I make music in spite of difficulty. Relentless progress towards the finish. Countless hours of grueling practice pay off when I’m hit with the euphoric feeling of hearing the rhythms played perfectly in time. It’s addicting, and it’s the force that pushes me to keep playing. 

The last 5 minutes of “Symphony No. 10” slowly rebuild from the chaos, a gentle exaltation of the heart. Though it carries the scars of the bitter past, a new vigor and optimism drives the melody. The final triumph of the heart over the mind. We arrive at “Life is Beautiful.” It has a simple majesty, but there’s a sweetness to every note. 

Music has helped me discover myself and find moments of happiness amidst tragedy and despair. The wicked instincts of life are raw and abstract, but while playing, the malevolent impulses coalesce, and there is a methodical, even mechanical, and unyielding pursuit into my future. Strong, steady beats and entrancing melodies have pushed me to keep marching forward, find balance, and find love in my community and myself. 

Time loses all meaning as I escape into my own world and soon, instead of balancing the melodies and harmonies, they seem to balance me. 

We end with one final note. 

And if music has made me one thing, it’s… 


Anaamika Nair

U Mass Amherst '23

Anaamika is going into her second year at UMass Amherst as a political science and African American Studies double major. She's always had a passion for writing and often uses her platform on Her Campus to share relevant think pieces. Outside of Her Campus, Anaamika works as a conduct advisor and is a part of the Restorative Justice Taskforce. To destress, she loves to run and you can usually find her at a coffee shop getting her daily fix of caffeine!
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