Oberlin Blogs

A kerfuffle of "auf Wiedersehens," thank yous, and advice

May 25, 2020

And then it was time to say “auf Wiedersehen.” Like many others, I’m not a fan of goodbyes, and where Oberlin is concerned they almost seem unnecessary. The world is smaller than one might think, especially the musical community, and I’m confident I’ll run into Obies throughout all walks of life. I’ve been to music festivals across the United States and beyond, and have never failed to meet an Obie. Last summer we had a dinner table full of Obies across the pond at a festival in Norway. 

For the next chapter in my musical education, I will be moving to Switzerland to begin a master’s degree in violin performance at the Lucerne School of Music. However, thankfully I won’t be alone. There are Obies I can visit in Brussels, Copenhagen, and Oslo. We all keep in touch and I can’t wait to have Bowlin studio reunions throughout Europe. The current debate happening in my mind is whether I should start a Euro David Bowlin Fan Club, and how that would be structured. 

This blog is going to be a kerfuffle (I love that word) of thank yous and advice for incoming students. 

The first thank you must go out to my wonderful family. Without my parents, none of this would have been possible, and I’m deeply grateful for their continued love and support. It makes me sad to know their commitment to my education will not be honored with a full commencement ceremony, but I know they are celebrating in a deeper way with their hearts, thinking about my growth and learning throughout these four years. Also, thank you to my brother Sunni and his wife Lauren for always being there throughout the highs and lows of college life. 

The next big thank you is a shout out to my wonderful violin professor, David Bowlin. From half tempo, to quarter tempo, you have always given me the tools to slow down and find solutions. Your guidance, kindness, and singing sound will be a long-lasting inspiration throughout my musical career. 

Chamber music has always been a big part of my time at Oberlin, and I’ve taken countless gems of knowledge from all of my coaches. Moving backwards in chronological order through time: Thank you, Professor Peter Slowik, for helping me realize where my tension was, and giving me key information as I worked through my injury. Also, thank you for always inspiring me to find greater depths of expression and greater levels of ensemble and collaboration. Thank you to Paul Kushious, for your continued enthusiasm and support, which has stretched far beyond coachings. Thank you to Peter Takács, for teaching me to look for inconsistencies in notation, and opening my eyes to how beautiful and sparkly a piano can sound. Thank you to Gregory Fulkerson for some of my favorite quotable lines, and a few concepts that are still in my head to this day. Finally, thank you to Merry Peckham, who I am privileged to have met during my Oberlin time. Your enthusiasm and infectious love for music will always be my golden standard of musical excitement. Also thank you to Kirsten Docter, for always being so knowledgable, warm and helpful, and putting up with my misspelling of her name as "Doctor" for a long time. 

Thank you to Maestros Raphael Jiménez and Tim Weiss, for four years of orchestral experience. I will forever remember to stay away from “alternative notes,” always to know where to be in the bow, and always to create something special. Thank you to Tim Weiss, for making me consider for the first time the role and importance/unimportance of our conceptualization of genre. 

A giant thank you to Oberlin’s famous collaborative pianist Sakki!!!!!!!!!!! I could write pages and pages about the wonderfulness that is Sakki, so thank you for being my bedrock during recitals, recordings, and studio classes. Your dedication, musicianship, and personal warmth will stay in my heart forever. Together we tackled my sophomore jury, junior recital, and graduate school recordings. So many of my performing experiences were made possible by you. Thank you!! 

Also thank you to Mr. Howsmon, for all the coachings, and putting up with all the late collaborative forms, for all your humor, and all your patience. 

Thank you to Heather Martin, for being sunshine in my day whenever I visited the office of concert productions (which was a lot).

Thank you to all of my theory and aural skills professors, especially Professor Alegant, for always patiently examining my crazy writings, ideas, and making each and every one of my contributions feel validated and valued. Thank you for teaching me numerous mindful approaches to analyzing music that will stay in my interpretive process from here on out. 

Thank you to Mike and Dan from ClevelandClassical.com, for guiding and nurturing my writing talents since freshman year. 

Thank you to Slow Train, for always putting up with my Breve orders (a breve is an uncommon form of a latte, made entirely with half & half). And setting my gold standard of salted chocolate chip cookies. 

Thank you to the Local, for always making wonderful Matcha lattes. 

Now I think we’re gradually transitioning to the advice part. I could have written a thank you to the Feve, for always making a wonderful Wellington burger, but I think I’ll make that an advice entry instead. If you’re ever at the Feve, check it out. It’s a burger with Muenster cheese and chipotle mayo, yuumm.

Be sure to stop by the UPS store and say “hi” from me; the Oberlin UPS store is the most warm and friendly UPS store I have ever encountered. I will miss them. 

The Carlyle flower shop has two of the most adorable sheltie dogs. Stop by and say hi, and brighten your day with some flowers.

If you’re ever looking for the most amazing hairstyle in the history of haircuts, stop by and see Josef, at Josef Hair. There’s no guarantee he’ll be able to take you on, since he’s very popular, but if he does, it’s your lucky day. 

If you’re looking for some quality carbs to brighten your day, stop by the Blue Rooster Bakehouse. Their bread is wonderful, and I say that as an avid amateur bread baker, and expert watcher of the Great British Baking Show. 

My final piece of advice, if you’re looking for some stillness in your busy days, go sit on the swing by Finney Chapel. The birds chirping away among the magnolia buds will do their best to fill your heart with joy and tranquility. 

Back to the thank yous, thank you to anyone reading this for coming this far. I appreciate your time and brain space. 

Finally, thank you to Oberlin for teaching me the value of community, deep learning, creativity, and authenticity. My time here will forever shape my future endeavors. 

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