When Andrea Falk arrived in Moscow for her first semester at the University of Idaho in August, she knew exactly what she wanted to do – she was going to study cello and vocal performance and be on Broadway.
Now, she isn”t so sure.
“I used to love practicing. Now I didn”t want to,” Falk said of her low point at college. “I hated performing. I didn”t think I was good enough to be there.”
The breaking point came in late October. Stress was running high from midterms, and Falk was playing in front of other string students and professors.
Falk said concerts are always nerve-wracking – especially more informal ones, where people are coming and going freely. At this particular concert, Falk said she wasn”t sure, but out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw someone sleeping.
“And in my head, between that one kid and the rest of them, they were judging me, even though they weren”t,” Falk said. “I left and went outside and cried for a good 10 minutes.”
Falk said since she began classes, being a music major has been much harder than she had anticipated. The major, she said, is all consuming. And while that”s not necessarily a bad thing, it has left her without time to unwind or practice hobbies.
Because of that, Falk said she learned she had to make a few minor adjustments. To control her anxiety, she stopped drinking coffee and began getting more sleep.
Though at the beginning of the year she had been nervous she wouldn”t make friends, she fell into step with a few other music majors.
When her anxiety finally boiled over that day in October, she said her music friends made for an excellent support system.
In fact, in the weeks after the concert, Falk said she was studying with them and one student mentioned they didn”t know if they were good enough to be in the major.
“I remember thinking, “Thank God, someone else feels the same way,” Falk said.
It wasn”t until a couple weeks ago that Falk, sitting alone in her dorm room, came to a realization.
“It just kind of occurred to me – I”m young,” she said. “I have no idea what I”m doing. I just have to go with the flow, you know, so I started doing these changes to help me think more clearly so my judgment wasn”t so clouded.”
Her father, who also lives in Moscow, began driving her to a martial arts class in town to help with her anxiety as well.
Around the same time, Heinavanker, an Estonian folk ensemble, came to perform at UI as part of the Chamber Music Series.
Falk said the experience was eye opening.
“Their singing was very simple, but everything piled up on top of each other and the harmonies were gorgeous,” Falk said. “There were only six of them, but they filled up this entire auditorium. It was amazing.”
She said after the performance, all she could think of was how she wanted to go where they were from and learn to do what they could do.
And that, Falk said, is the amazing thing about being in a university music program.
“In high school, you could do classical music or you could do Broadway, and that”s it,” she said. “Now there”s all this stuff I”ve never even heard of, and it”s cool to consider all of it.”
Hannah Shirley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org