Widgets Magazine

From the music desk: An open letter to the class of 2019

Originally published in print on September 15th, 2015.

In the age of streaming and the collapse of copyright, finding music is not hard, but discovery remains a challenge. Too often we start our search knowing exactly what we’re looking for, and once we reach our destination, we stall. There are two ways to find music, one easy, one hard. You can follow the map, tiptoeing through a well-worn network of known artists and genres that makes up your personal taste, or you can throw the map out the window, take a leap and just listen.

The latter, a sort of open-eared, closed-eyes approach, is likely to make you feel uncomfortable, lost and most importantly, critical — you’ll listen with more scrutiny when you don’t enter with pre-existing judgments. If you do embrace the unknown, embrace it fully, good or bad. You’ll find new music, gain a broader and richer perspective; you’ll confront your likes and dislikes with new clarity. It will change the way you hear whatever comes next. There’s something romantic about letting fate guide you to that perfect song, too.

This process can — and should — be done at a place like Stanford. After all, if you’re grasping in the dark, you’re bound to find whatever’s closest, first. You’ll find new music at recitals, in dorms and at parties. Our campus holds a deep well of artistic talent and diverse tastes open to all who look.

Let us, the music section, help guide you through this process. This year I’d like to refocus our aims and serve students above all else. That means we’ll be giving more attention to student musicians and focusing our efforts on producing more relevant content for our community.

Since we’ll be community focused, we hope to be community driven, too. It’s very important to us that our section grows closer to the campus community of musicians and music lovers. If you have any art, thoughts or criticisms you’d like to share, please reach out and contact us at music ‘at’ stanforddaily.com. We’d love to hear what you have to share and open up a dialogue. That said, we can’t promise that we’ll cover everything we come across. But we’ll always do our best to take a listen to and establish a relationship that will lead to greater exposure, enjoyment and thoughtfulness for all involved.

We understand, though, that the world of music doesn’t end at Campus Drive. We’ll continue our coverage of culturally relevant and exciting new music from all kinds of artists, big and small. But it’s not our goal to distill the vast and always changing realm of music into a weekly highlight reel of haphazard commentary and rushed thoughts. We have Twitter for that. As journalists, we’ll strive to find topics that are not only relevant to students, but that bring our best passions to the page. My hope is that our best writing will allow us to shift from the task of finding relevance to the task of creating relevance.

Your first year will be gone before you know it. So as you start your Stanford journey, challenge yourself to open your ears. Take time to embrace the moment, and listen deeply.

Contact Benjamin Sorensen at bcsoren ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Benjamin Sorensen

Benjamin Sorensen covers jazz for the Arts & Life section of the Stanford Daily. He is a junior from Stanford, California studying political science with interests in Chinese and music. He enjoys playing guitar, talking about music, and wishing he could sing. Contact him at bcsoren ‘at’ stanford.edu.