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Finding My Identity through Music

By Adeline Wheeler

Choosing whether to get involved with the arts in 6th grade has been one of the decisions that has changed my life’s trajectory. I’m sure I’m not alone in this statement. Throughout the rest of my middle and high school years playing the flute has given me a reason to come to school, shown me how to work as and for a team, and introduced me to some of my greatest friends.

Early Years Many years ago when I decided on the flute, it didn’t feel like much of a decision. Playing it felt pretty natural, and I thoroughly enjoyed practicing and learning how to play. I also felt like I fit in with the other students who were learning. After feeling left out for not playing a sport for most of my life, I finally had a hobby to tell people about myself. I got more involved in music by taking private lessons and joining pretty much any group in high school that included flute. I always felt a sense of belonging within the music department, metaphorically with the people and philosophies, and physically within the school building. I was a part of honor bands, specifically Columbus Youth Symphonic Band, which rehearsed weekly, and where I met many new people from all around Columbus that I had so much in common with. A lot of my academic and social time was spent practicing or with music people.

Moving to College When transitioning into college, I knew I didn’t want to give up this community. I started as a double major of Accounting and Flute Performance. I enjoyed continuing to improve at the flute, but I knew the other music classes were not what I would use during my career. Additionally, splitting my time between two disciplines didn’t allow me to really feel like I belonged in either.

Changing Direction I decided that I would change my flute performance major to a co-major in Arts Management to continue my studies of music, but in a different aspect. This was an incredibly difficult decision because I knew this would take away the academic pressure to practice flute and that I would inevitably lose a lot of skill that I had crafted for so many years. What I didn’t realize would be even harder, was to lose the sense of identity I had gained through playing flute. I no longer have communities where everyone enjoys playing music in common. I feel like I no longer can answer “I play the flute” to common questions such as “What’s a fun fact about you?” or “What do you like to do in your free time?” because I don’t practice as seriously and as often as I used to.

Finding Balance I am currently finding a balance between academics and my hobby of playing the flute, along with my newfound interest in the music industry. My interest has been nurtured by the classes I have taken such as: Intro to Arts Management, Intro to Music Business, and Arts Marketing. Exploring these different aspects introduce me to insight on how the industry operates. The projects I have worked on such as research projects on Girls Write Nashville and Taylor Swift, as well as helping program and market the Electric Roots Festival excite me. I am inspired to dig deeper into these topics and themes within the industry to create meaningful change. Through these classes, I am also finding people within the Arts Management co-major who share common interests and communities like the ones I found within the band. But mainly, to fill this missing piece of identity, I am working introspectively to realize that my identity as a human is continuous and ever changing.

I am not a flute player one day because I played the flute, and I am not only a student the next day because I didn’t. Different ways I spend my time all contribute to define me, and different stages in my life will naturally have different focuses.

Adeline Wheeler is a sophomore Accountancy major and Arts Management co-major. She is interested in adding ‘reason behind the numbers’ as an accountant in the music industry. Currently, she is gaining experience as well as meeting musicians by serving as treasurer for High Street Records- a student run record label on campus.


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