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There are moments in my Duke Engage experience where I question my involvement in the program. Do my actions have a place in the site, or am I just aimlessly filling up my workday with meaningless tasks? I constantly felt that if I wasn’t performing a task or working on some project that my day would be wasted. I knew that I wanted my time at Larkin Street Youth Servies to focus on advocating the arts and supporting clients in doing so. As someone interested in the arts, I chose to spend a good portion of my time in Larkin Street’s Arts Studio. The Arts Studio is a place where clients can produce and record their own music, as well as receive private lessons and coaching on musical techniques and music programs. However, it’s also one of the first places clients are drawn to: free rehearsal and recording space tend to draw in a lot of creative minds. So, while there’s an abundance of familiar faces, I often get to interact with clients who are visiting the site for the first time. What troubled me the most was how to overcome the discomfort I felt in engaging with the clients. I worried about being viewed as a privileged, snobby intern who applied for this program only to enrich my resume.
Fortunately, the Art Studio is the space I feel the most comfortable in at the Larkin site. Growing up with a musical family, it’s comforting to see the collection of keyboards and guitars available. And this feeling of reassurance was necessary towards the beginning of my time here, when I felt extremely uncomfortable, uncertain of what my presence was contributing to the space around me. The first day I stepped into the studio, I approached the piano with another intern and began to play some fun tunes, nothing serious. I’d been in a hardcore Adele phase, and I was determined to master “Chasing Pavements” on the piano. After several minutes of fiddling around and attempting to reach Adele’s mastery level of vocals (emphasis on attempting), a client approached me and asked if I could play a couple of songs for him while he sang. I agreed, and we proceeded to spend the next two hours jamming and belting out to our favorite songs.
On my way home, I reflected on the rapid change I had undergone: from discomfort to ease. Music always had that effect on me, and I’m grateful I can use it to engage with the clients and the immense amount of talent they bring into the Studio each day. And at the end of the summer, it won’t be the small projects or tasks I worked on throughout the day that will stick me it; it’s the two-hour long jam sessions with talented artists I had just met, belting at the top of our lungs, focusing on our harmonies as opposed to our differences.