Posts Tagged ‘classes’

Harmony: Gigs, Glory, and Growth

Monday, August 1st, 2022

Walking home on the last day of junior year classes, a chilly late-May day, I received an email notification with the subject line “oh and another thing:” from my creative writing professor. I stopped in my tracks to open the message, which read, “surround yourself with friends who will never let you forget that you are an artist.” 

I smiled, remembering the conversation that we had just wrapped up in our last class, which she had reserved as an “Ask Me Anything” session. Her email was an addendum to the response she had given for my question about how to manage burnout in a creative career. She shared advice about maintaining artistic momentum, and even told us that her students actually inspire her. 

As I continued my walk home, I reflected on the class, which had ended up being one of my favorites during my time at Northwestern. Beyond my talented classmates, the interesting topics, and hard work I put into the assignments, it was really the professor that made the class stand out. I had never met a professor so invested in her students and openly emotional with her words of support. Through office hour meetings where we discussed a lengthy short story piece I was working on, I became inspired by her creatively-driven career path as a novelist and creative writing professor. She encouraged us to take risks and dive deep into our writing, and as a result it was in this class that I discovered my voice as a writer and an artist. I dove into my writing, embracing the work that I really loved to do, and the effect rippled out into my other passion as I began to pursue DJing more seriously.

The summer after my sophomore year, I DJed every week during my late-night radio shows. Once I overcame the initial technical difficulties and got the hang of the equipment, my time at the radio station became sacred to me. I loved being able to practice alone while also knowing that there was a small audience of listeners somewhere out there. All by myself in the studio, it was easy to forget about the people tuning in to my show, but one night, to my delight, I received a call on the radio phone line in the middle of my set. A listener let me know how much they enjoyed my set, and asked about the names of the last couple of songs I had played. 

As I gained confidence behind the DJ booth at the station, I began to invite a couple of friends to come hang out at the station during my set. Some would talk and browse the station as I played, while others would peer over my shoulder and dance. When the fall semester of junior year started up, I received an email one day announcing a party hosted by the radio station and asking if anyone was interested in DJing. I responded to the email, and by the end of the day I had a forty-five minute time slot lined up for that coming weekend. 

A picture from my first time DJing at a party

In the days leading up to the party, nerves were running high and I wasn’t quite sure how to prepare. At the radio station, I would just show up and try things out for an hour, but for a roomful of people I wanted to be more prepared. I listened to a bunch of music and meticulously picked out songs for my set, then I went over to my friend’s house to practice mixing with his DJ board. On the day of, just an hour before the party started, I decided that I hated my whole set and redid all of my song selections. I felt underprepared and had no idea what was going to happen, but there was nothing left to do except go and try my best. So, I put on my favorite outfit and headed over to the party. I was the first person slated to perform, so as people started to trickle in, I put on the first song and began to adjust the settings to my liking. As I made my first song transition, muscle memory kicked in, and I realized that all those hours at the radio station paid off, and I knew exactly what to do – in fact, I could do it almost without thinking! 

All of a sudden, the dance floor was full. I could see how the crowd responded to the music and tried to play off of their energy, layering upbeat songs to get the crowd moving with slower songs to give people a breather. I was nervous that my disco house tracks wouldn’t land because they’re not the typical Top 40 hits you hear at a college party, but I was delighted to see that people were really dancing and enjoying themselves. I left the DJ booth feeling a huge sense of success, and received lots of compliments, thumbs up, and smiles from friends and strangers alike. As the next DJ took over, I slipped into the crowd with a smile that would linger for days to come, and danced the rest of the night away.


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By Lu Poteshman

Lu is a rising senior at Northwestern University, where she studies English Literature with a minor in Art, Theory and Practice. She is passionate about all things music and art, and loves to paint, draw, design things, write creatively, cook and explore in her free time. She is currently working towards her dreams of being a book editor by day and DJ by night.


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