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An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

Art Is Like Family
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Sophie Xu ’23

Sophie Xu ’23 gave this talk about the arts at St. Andrew’s during Awards Night 2023

I’m Sophie, and I’m sure you recognize me if you’ve ever been to a Parents Weekend or an Arts Weekend concert. Sure, I was labeled as a pianist and violinist before coming to St.Andrew’s, but I never even dreamed of seeing myself as an a capella singer, a jazz saxophonist, or a rapping nun in a school musical. 

So when I think back on the past four years, being in a school known for its opportunities and support, I am the most grateful for the arts program. 

On a Free Day last spring, I tore my ACL on the front lawn. We all play multiple roles in SAS, and in this moment, the athlete part of me crumbled. It was probably the biggest and saddest obstacle I’ve ever experienced. But when I tell you that it was art that saved me from falling over, I’m not exaggerating. 

My surgery was exactly three days after Arts Weekend 2022. The weekend was successful, as I vaguely recall, but I will never forget standing up to sing "September" for Jazz, with one hand leaning on a crutch and the other holding the mic. For Noxontones, that was probably the only time a stool was seen in our semicircle, but hey, I was still head-bopping. 

But the most heartwarming moment was when I walked onto the stage as concertmaster of the orchestra, alone, as I have done before, but this time with my crutches, a little embarrassed for moving so slowly through the rows of chairs—but the clapping went on. At that moment I knew I could never perform for a more supportive community than St. Andrew’s. 

Perhaps because music was already so interwoven in my life, I seemed to forget the joy it brought me until those four weeks, when making music re-ignited those dim days and made me realize how much space art actually takes up in my heart. I suppose you could compare it to family, where it's always part of your life, but extra-soothing during your hardest times. 

And when I say that making music can alter my emotions, it actually goes both ways. This year, I picked up the saxophone in a class of talented musicians. 

One day Dr. Geiersbach asked us to improv over a piece with insane chord progressions, and ultimately the class ended on my solo, which did not sound very good. So the irritation stuck with me, and for the whole rest of the day, I was thinking about what notes I could have played. 

But hey, only when you feel both the positives and the negatives do you realize how much you care about it.

So take an art class. Maybe through that class you will realize something new, like how I learned that I could sing in my sophomore year vocal studies class. Or maybe you will never pursue that art again—like how I might not ever have the opportunity to play the saxophone again. 

But why not take a try? Because art for me has been a source of sunshine through my highest highs and lowest lows, and perhaps it could be yours too.

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