SAMARA BENZA, Features Editor—If you thought playing one instrument was cool, meet Anel Sosa. She first picked up the euphonium in middle school but since then, Sosa has expanded her breadth of musical knowledge to the trombone, piano, ukulele, saxophone, guitar, and violin. “I like dabbling in instruments, I’m not perfect at each one…but I play them and enjoy it.”
Anel Sosa, ‘22, from Houston, Texas is a music and psychology double major.
Sosa first started down the musical route in middle school when every student was forced to either pick gym or music as an extracurricular. “It was a normal decision for me to pick band and I picked euphonium because it was familiar to me” Her older and younger brothers also all play euphonium. Music has been a part of her life for a very long time so it just made sense to her to follow that path too.
Sosa explains that her relationship with music was a love/hate relationship: “You have me in middle school playing euphonium and learning, not thinking it was a big deal, then you go into high school and you join marching band, then you join the symphonic advanced band. Then you have to start asking yourself why. Then you get to college and think maybe you can finally escape it. Then you become a music major.” As she said this, her face was brightly lit and you could tell she loved to hate music.
It isn’t all easy, often Sosa thought she never would be good enough as she wanted to be, but then once she sat in band, she realized that playing was fun and she was good. She explains it’s still definitely a love hate relationship, but she’s learned to love it over time and it’s her future.
Sosa wasn’t expecting to become a music major. In her freshman year at Denison, Sosa felt very isolated from her family and wanted a place that would comfort her. The music department was a place she found herself in often. She joined one group, then another, then another and was overwhelmed with the amount of music. That didn’t stop her though, she quickly took on more lessons, ensembles, and groups. Now, it makes more sense to ask the question “what groups are you not involved in” rather than “what groups are you involved in.” She is in the wind ensemble, the orchestra, the brass ensemble, private lessons for more than one instrument, she composes, and is a department fellow along with so many other areas of the music department.
Sosa became very well known in the music department. She’ll be walking around the music department and professors start saying hi to her, making her internally question “how do you know me?” But, to her, the music department is like one big family: “a chaotic, festive family where everyone learns about one another without them knowing. Eventually, I started fitting myself into this family.”
An area she never thought she would be in is composition. Dr. Hu, a composer and teacher in the music department, came up to her one day and asked if she wrote music, she responded with “I don’t even know how to read music.” Obviously a joke, as she was already hyper involved in the music department, but her point was clear: she was in music because she liked it, not because it was required and it’s not always easy, music challenges you to new levels and pushes you to grow in so many ways. She eloquently explains: “once you learn to care about something so much, if you can’t pull it off as much as you want to pull it off, it’s painful…I’m stressed that I have to keep up with all these things but I’m so happy I get to have it at all.”
In this unknown time, the music department is still figuring out how to make the semester the best it can be. In order to slow the spread of Covid, the music department is making all instruments cover their bells so aerosols don’t escape as easily. Additionally, masks must be made that allow for the mouthpiece to be put to the mouth while still keeping the player and others safe.
Sosa explains “I want to practice inside because I don’t want to damage my instrument but I just got the netting for the top of my bell and I don’t have the specific mask for it—I want the specific mask to feel safer.” It is definitely a hard semester for musicians all around. For Sosa, “It feels like music is being taken away from me.” She explains that “the professors are there and doing their best,” but playing is really what makes her comfortable and she just wants to play: it’s the thing that I need to live, music is the thing that gives me a reason to want to breathe.”
Reflecting on her years in the music department so far, she explains “I did all this because I’m a musician and that’s just normal for me to do, I didn’t think about getting things out of it. I just think about that I have to do it for me.”
In summary, as eloquently put by Sosa: “Minds of artists man, you can’t control any of it.”