What ____ Means To Me: Music Edition

What Jazz Means to Me by Annika Olives, Lifestyle Editor

It’s a Thursday afternoon. Fall is right around the corner; the scent of fireplace smoke is in the air, and I’m rushing to sixth period, boots clacking against the ground. I grab my seat at the back of the classroom as my AP statistics teacher passes around thick packets of problems. He returns to his desk, presses play, and jazz immediately flows from the speaker.

This was a recurring event during my senior year of high school. During statistics, I could count on the fact that every potential silence would be interrupted by a smooth saxophone. I learned the difference between t-tests and z-tests with a melodic piano and practiced probability to the tune of a trumpet. As a result of the class, you either learned to hate jazz, or you learned to love it.

I became a fan.

I’ve never been one to study with music. I always found it distracting — how was I supposed to listen, write, and read at the same time? Even when I played songs I knew by heart, ones that apparently were easier to tune out, I couldn’t focus; my mind jumped from “The Catcher in the Rye” to Hozier’s croon and back.

Jazz was different. It was calming, warm. I quickly discovered the playlist “Coffee Table Jazz,” and it became a staple in my statistics study sessions. Jazz soon bled into other areas of my academic life and into college; that playlist saw me through countless research papers, attempts at Java programming, and three calculus classes.

Even now, when I’m stressed or confused about something school-related, I’ll put that playlist on, and it helps ease my mind. As cheesy as it sounds, it takes me back to my AP statistics class, where my barely-17-year-old-self thought that no problem was too big to tackle.

I guess I have my teacher to thank for that.

What Music Means to Me by Colleen Conradi, Lifestyle Staff Writer

My taste in music covers a wide range of genres. Put my phone on shuffle and you’ll get songs from artists such as Miley Cyrus, Van Morrison, Florence and the Machine, Sugar Hill Gang, Louis Prima, Kendrick Lamar, and of course, Los Lobos. While I do take pride in my diverse collection, there is truly only one person I can give credit to for my musical knowledge: my mom.

Growing up, it took me a while to appreciate my mom’s love for playing all kinds of music as loudly and proudly as she does. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with as many tapes and CDs as her, but my sister and I didn’t always love her music as much as everyone else did. Jimi Hendrix did not entice me as much as Hannah Montana did at the time. It was not unusual for my mom to turn up the volume on some Eric Clapton while a neighbor walked by, yelling out their appreciation for her selection. She truly has music for all occasions; my sister and I could tell what my mother’s mood was solely based on the music playing. As soon as we heard the opening of The Gap Band’s, “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” on a Saturday morning, the message was clear: either get out and go play or Mom will have you washing dishes to the likes of Kool and the Gang in no time.

Unfortunately, two years ago my family had to move out of our beloved little house and neighborhood community. I thought losing my home would mean losing all the memories that came with it. However, recently, I randomly came across a Los Lobos song and once the chorus began, all of my favorite memories of home came flooding back. Suddenly, I could see my sister, our neighborhood friends, and me racing down the street on our bikes and Razor scooters. I could see construction workers repaving the street while my eight-year-old self sat at a tiny lemonade stand, patiently awaiting the moment that the hot sun demanded the men take a break and buy a refreshment. I could hear the frogs in the creek behind my house and feel the sweet summer air around me. I realized all of these memories were still with me and with the help of all the music my mom played, it’s as if each song can be my own little time machine.

This moment and many more that I’ve had with rediscovered songs are why I love music and am grateful to have grown up around it. Each song I listen to throughout my life eventually become more than just a song; it becomes a memory. As I continue to add to my playlists, I’ll be able to go back and listen to albums and artists that represent all the different seasons of my life. Even now, as I find myself turn on The Sugarhill Gang to find the motivation to clean up my room, I know all of these musical memories will continue to stay with me.