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My Carleton Orchestra Experience

Quinn writes about her experience with the Carleton College Orchestra!

Quinn writes about her experience with the Carleton College Orchestra!


Orchestra Anxieties…

On my very first day of college as I moved into my dorm, I remember tucking my violin under my bed and thinking that I’d been foolishly optimistic to even bring it with me. Two days later as I schlepped myself to the Weitz to attend my audition for the Carleton Orchestra, I again wondered if I was deluding myself.

As a self-described back row violinist I was unsure whether I would be able to keep up with the demands of a collegiate orchestra while maintaining my academics and participating in other extracurriculars – it seemed like a lot to ask of a newborn college student! As someone who wasn’t a music major, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. On top of this worry I was battling the standard audition anxiety that every performer is intimately familiar with. Thankfully my audition ended up being very low-stress and casual, a theme which would carry throughout my experience in the orchestra. I was also lucky in that my RA was also a member of the orchestra. She was able to reassure me that participating in the orchestra was not restricted to music majors and would not at all limit me from enjoying other extracurriculars.

Photo of sheet music with ink on it
Ink on sheet music, the greatest sin of them all

Finding Joy in Music!

After my first orchestra rehearsal, I remember walking out of Kracum Performance Hall with a wave of relief washing over me. It was instantly made clear to me that while the orchestra was going to afford me the fantastic experience to perform at the collegiate level, I would still be able to explore all the other exciting opportunities Carleton had to offer. As the term progressed I got to enjoy learning new music, meeting new people, and playing with a talented group of musicians!

Every term brings an exciting and diverse range of musical programming. I’ve played Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and everything in between (including some contemporary works).  I have enjoyed the opportunity to learn stylistic variety in addition to strengthening my technical skills. It’s also been very rewarding to learn from my fellow musicians – an orchestra friend has been exploring the fiddle recently, while another has been working on composition. Their musical exploration has encouraged me to branch out as well!

Kracum Performance Hall
Kracum Performance Hall, home of the Carleton Orchestra!

Participating in the Carleton Orchestra has brought me a lot of joy and allowed me to continue pursuing a passion for music that I might have otherwise abandoned. If you’re coming to college and are unsure about whether or not you should continue with the arts, allow me to encourage you to keep it up! I was very grateful for the comfort that orchestra provided, particularly as I navigated the transition from high school to college. I really can’t recommend it enough!


Quinn (she/her/hers) has deep love of the Carleton community; she says she is so lucky to be surrounded by such brilliant and kind people. Quinn is an active member of student-run radio station KRLX, the orchestra, equestrian club, and the music department! Following her love of music and radio, her favorite place on campus is the record library. And finally, a fun fact about Quinn is that her family helped to found the Minneapolis St. Patrick’s Day Parade!