By Mike Conklin
You may be surprised to learn that I once had delusions of rock stardom. At the impressionable age of 12, an impromptu performance in a playground parking lot was enough to convince me of the power of music and the appeal of a guy with a guitar. I had to rock, and as irrefutable evidence that such was my destiny, I received the gift of a guitar and a year of private lessons, and I began to play the part.
Slowly though, my priorities changed, and at the age of 26 my dream of achieving rock stardom has given way to a reality defined by sweater vests, sitcoms, and memories of a band that broke-up long before it had a name (but not before it bought a lot of expensive equipment). The most devout of my fans is an Australian Shepherd, and even he sleeps through most of my performances.
And yet, my love of music persists. In a desperate attempt to preserve what remains of my musical ambitions, I recently purchased a new guitar and started taking private lessons again, and though I struggled to find a teacher at first, I ultimately connected with an individual that is as gifted an instructor as he is a musician. He also happens to be a sophomore at the University of Rochester.
If I had an inflated ego, I may have declined to admit that I am taking lessons from, and am humbled every week by, someone seven years my junior. But the truth is that he is a profoundly talented musician; I have learned, and continue to learn, a great deal about the instrument I fell in love with 14 years ago.
Another perk – I get to share my experience with prospective students. As an admissions counselor, I often get asked how accessible music lessons are at the University of Rochester, and though I inevitably speak about the incredible opportunities available to River Campus students at the Eastman School of Music, I can confidently say now that music is more accessible than I had previously thought it to be.