Photo from Jim Lo
By Jim Lo
I started playing violin when I was in kindergarten, at the age of 5. My mom used to play classical music on the radio when she was pregnant with me, which she says made learning violin easier. While I cannot fully verify the validity of her claim, it is true that I am able to quickly pick up the rhythm of a new song and hum along with it. After 11 years of violin lessons, music was more than just amusement. It became a friend that makes me happy and comfortable whenever I am low; a friend that stands beside me when I am helpless; and a friend that I can invest my true emotion and sentiments in.
So I never thought that I would seriously look into studying in a music institute until senior year of high school. Whenever people think about musical schools they thought of Juilliard, but I was looking for something different. Growing up receiving classical music lessons does not mean that it would become my future. I was looking for something creative, an improvisational institute: Berklee College of Music. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, Berklee College of Music is famous for its focus on jazz and contemporary music.
Applying to college is tough, but imagine the pressure on you when you are auditioning for one of America’s top five musical institutes. Nervous yet animated, I took a plane to Hong Kong by myself with a backpack and my violin, ready to face the challenge. Long story short, I received a mail from Berklee College of Music a few weeks later congratulating my acceptance. It meant everything to me, being accepted into a top-end institute was the best praise I have ever gotten in my life. However, as an international student, I would have to pay a total of 140,000k per year in order to attend. After discussion and evaluation, my parents and I came to a conclusion, which was to decline the offer.
Although I declined that path to start training as a musician at the age of 18, it does not mean that I could not embark on my musical career in the future. There are times when I would think back and ask myself, “What if I accepted the offer? What would my life be like? What differences would there be?” Well, my violin skills would have been much better than what it is now, and I would have had the opportunity to receive profound lessons from famous musicians. But my love towards music would never change. It has always been my passion, and nothing could ever alter that. In the end, I think that is what matters the most.
When you love something so much, it generally turns into a loyal partner in your life. I love music, and I feel happy whenever I play the violin or listen to songs on the radio. People ask if I regret the choice I made, and I always tell them that there is nothing worth regretting for. Music enriched my life in a way that I never thought it would, and I know that it will always exist by my side to support and embellish my lifetime. For that, I am forever grateful!