Hannah Van Essen ’21

I think that there are moments in our lives that we will always look back on with a smile, whether out of fond remembrance or patient sympathy, simply because it exists in our minds as a singular example of better times. Or maybe better isn’t the word––something more like simple, defined, known. Because for many, the future  remains unknown, complicated, and riddled with inconstancy. For me, these sweet moments of simplicity are characterized by music. 

Some of my earliest memories highlight my sister and I, always dancing, usually in our High School Musical 2 pyjamas. We had clear cut bangs of bleach, blonde hair and were forever singing along to our home taped copy of U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind tour, and lip synching to John Mayer’s electrifying music. For us, music was just a part of life. I’ve tried to explain to people how I was “raised” on Coldplay, but have only found the same understanding in my sister, who knows what these songs and words mean to us––to our family. 

Amidst the world of secular music, there was an almost overwhelming presence of religious artists in my life. Church wasn’t just some building we went to on Sundays, it was a culture that we brought home with us everyday- including the music. I grew up listening to a mix of contemporary and traditional hymns, blending generational differences and preferences into one. I can immediately recognize almost any worship song, and find comfort in something so familiar and constant in my life. The Christian lifestyle, for me, only reinforced my understanding of music, and allowed me to better express the ever growing multifaceted life that I lead. 

In a more personal sense, music has always been connected to me directly though the piano. I began playing when I was very young and have continued to take lessons even now. I was, and still am, in love with making my own music, perfecting a song, and playing for hours on end. The funny thing is that I could play a song a thousand times, until it’s just right, only to completely forget how to play the piano the second I get in front of a crowd. My teacher and I have always had a quiet understanding about my love for music, but abhorrence for performing. And that’s okay. Sometimes I wish I played other instruments, and had perfected the expression of music in some other medium, but for now I am infinitely content with the beauty of the piano. 

So, as I reflect on the different aspects of music in my life, I am a little sad to think that I will soon be walking across a stage to the iconic graduation tune, leaving behind me such a complete and happy childhood. I am bringing both my love for piano and the familiarity of gospel music with me to college, but inevitably have to leave behind the comfort that is my family. But all good things must come to an end––right? And I am so glad to have spent these last 18 years with the people I love, enjoying life, and listening to great music. 

Photo Credit: http://www.ClassicFM.com

Written by

Hannah Van Essen

Hannah Van Essen, junior, loves reading and writing. She is particularly excited to further her own creative writing skills this year. Hannah’s favorite piece of literature is the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. She is currently the Assistant Director of OLu’s King Author and anticipating a fantastic premiere.