Meet Our Students: Colleen Schmidt

Meet Our Students - ft. Colleen Schmidt!  

What year are you at Columbia/Barnard and what are/will you be majoring in?
Senior majoring in Environmental Biology with a focus on plants.

How should a student at Columbia take advantage of all the musical offerings here? 
Talk to CU musicians about where they are performing, and where they go to hear great music on campus. I suggest people check out Postcrypt Coffeehouse on Friday nights in the basement of St. Paul’s, the weekly concerts in Faculty House and Maison Français, and the Jazz Guest Artist and CU Orchestra concerts at the end of each semester. There is a wealth of talent and dedication on campus. You’ve just got to go find it, and you’ll be blown away.

How do you balance a busy academic schedule with practice time? Any tips?
Not well. Not well at all. This spring I’m trying to take my own advice: Make a realistic schedule for your practice sessions (e.g. “MWF 1-2:30pm” not “everyday including weekends 6am-9am”), and then treat them as a required class that you simply cannot miss.

What experience or piece made you first fall in love with music?
Well, that’s a hard question. Maybe it was when I first worked on a Romantic piece instead of a Baroque or Classical one and learned that sliding into a note is not only allowed, but encouraged. Or maybe the first time I heard a big band live and felt rather than just heard the swing feel. Or when Mike got caught in that avalanche (don’t worry, he’s fine) and I got called to drive 130 miles through the snow to play my first big-girl gig with a drummer whose ride pattern felt like a hug. Or when the potluck bluegrass jam session on Tammy’s front porch went straight through a thunderstorm and into the early morning. Or when Dr. Lonnie Smith sat with his feet dangling over the edge of the Miller Theater stage and started playing his cane. I just keep falling for it, over and over and over. I forget who said this to me (maybe Dylan DelGiudice?): there is no evidence that the human species can exist without music. Agreed wholeheartedly.

What is your pre and post concert routine?
Pack everything up, put on my concert shoes, and try not to make rude comments when strangers on the street tell me I should have played flute.

How has MPP helped you better study, live, or grow in your time at Columbia?
Being part of the MPP has built breaks from the intense academic atmosphere into my schedule: rehearsals, sessions, and gigs where the only assignment is to make good music. It has kept me sane, introduced me to some truly incredible people, and given me plenty of things to practice. I’m grateful to be part of it!