Photos courtesy of JA Bradley (left), Brett Vance (Center), and Nick Karp (right)

Student musicians Jeanette Thomas (left), Jon Conley (center), and Mandy Aramouni (right).


February 7, 2017

Cleveland state student musicians lead double lives

The symmetry of academics with jobs and personal life commitments makes life a balancing act for students. When one thinks of students with a full plate, the thought of someone on a sports team or a single parent trying to juggle everything is the immediate image that comes to mind.

But another group that faces such challenges is that of student musicians, particularly those whose bands play regularly, while also writing new material and touring.

“It is such a release to get together with friends and create,” said Mandy Aramouni, an accounting and economics student at CSU. “I feel like I am exercising different segments of my brain.  When I’m done I feel like my brain just went on vacation.  I am refreshed and I can go into my studies with a new perspective.  It is down time that helps to prevent me from becoming burnt out.”

Aramouni plays in a few Cleveland bands, most notably Goldmines and Part Time Lover. She has been playing music for several years and like most students, she has a creative way of dealing with the stresses of studying and attending classes on a regular basis.

Musicians also mention how the structure of the weekly routine allows them to easily fit in their musical activities when they can. And the performance aspect involved gives students a physical release and allows them to channel their pent-up energies from studying and attending classes on a regular basis.

“As far as performing goes, if you want to perform, you will,” says Jonathan Conley, a graduate student getting his master’s degree in English and creative writing who leads the local rock outfit Beach Stav.

“If you have the itch to be in front of people, you will make that time,” he continues. “Writing music comes naturally. If you are an artist or a musician, every field you study, every decision you make, every aspect of your life -- they all inform your art. The academic grind can be remarkably inspiring.”

Unfortunately the lifestyles have a way of clashing on occasion, as music takes time and dedication, both are things most people do not commonly have extra of at their disposal.

“I went on tour last semester during spring break, as my one band, the Do Aways, was invited to play two shows at the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas,” said Jeanette Thomas, a junior majoring in fine arts. Thomas is a part of Cleveland bands such as Cigarette Playdate and Meep Murple.

“I told my professors in advance, and all them seemed cool with it, but then I was late in getting back by a few days, as we stopped in Nashville, Tenn. overnight to stay with friends rather than drive back through the night. And my professor penalized me for missing a class, causing my grade to drop half a letter, which I found unfair, given the advance notice, along with the opportunity that playing at such a prestigious event presented.”


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