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October 26, 2023

Letter from the editor: Seven instruments, one symphony

The+Sidekick+executive+editor-in-chief+Sri+Achanta+recounts+her+experiences+playing+instruments.+Achanta+has+learned+to+play+seven+instruments%2C+her+most+recent+being+the+mridangam.
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The Sidekick executive editor-in-chief Sri Achanta recounts her experiences playing instruments. Achanta has learned to play seven instruments, her most recent being the mridangam.

Place a tabla, saxophone, mridangam, piano, guitar, recorder and violin in a room full of musicians and you’ll end up with a septet – a seemingly arbitrary seven-instrument ensemble.

Take out the last “s” in musicians, walk into a different room and you might just end up at my house.

Following the path of a stereotypical Asian American, I started my musical career as a pianist. I became a soprano recorder aficionado by fifth grade, a proud member of my school’s band. In sixth grade, determined to expand my abilities, I picked up guitar and violin lessons. By seventh grade, I got bored and quit both instruments. 

In eighth grade, I began feeling in tune with my culture and learned how to play the tabla, a pair of Desi hand drums. The standard age to learn a new instrument is between 4 and 7, so when I joined my first tabla class at 13, I was surrounded by a handful of first graders who were particularly keen on showing me up. 

I continued to play the tabla throughout tenth grade and that summer, I picked up the saxophone just long enough to learn “A Whole New World.” During junior year, I took a hiatus from playing any instruments, focusing more on the mundane tasks that come with growing up.

It was only a few weeks ago, well into my senior year, that I decided to start playing an instrument again: the mridangam, a South Indian classical drum. The feeling of joy that came from the physical motions of playing an instrument after a year of intermission was unmatched, even though my natural affinity towards playing had started to wane.

Though I am at best, a mediocre musician, each instrument that I have played has brought valuable lessons.

It was the tears I shed over the ivory keys of my grand piano, repeating the same measure over and over again that nurtured a sense of patience within me.

The callouses I developed after wrapping my fingers around the guitar and violin strings were a testament to my mantra: no pain, no gain.

The ego I had to mend after realizing that young children could play the tabla better than me fortified my resolve.

And currently, playing the mridangam simply out of enjoyment reminds me that there’s no life without doing things for fun.

Follow @sriachanta_ and @CHSCampusNews on X

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About the Contributor
Sri Achanta, Executive Editor-in-Chief
Sri Achanta is a senior and the executive editor-and-chief of The Sidekick. She finds joy in finding narratives within conversations to create compelling stories. In her free time, you can find her reading fantasy and mystery novels, her personal favorite book being Legendborn by Tracy Deon. Sri also enjoys painting still life, prefering acrylic paint over oil paints anytime. One of her favorite artworks is a sculpture by Michelangelo called the “Pietà”.  Sri is always up for a good plate of sushi or a meal at her favorite restaurant, Siam Thai, where she gets her go-to favorite dish which is spicy drunken noodles. She loves to top off her dinner with her favorite drink, Matcha tea. She also never passes on an opportunity to hang out with her friends and family. Her favorite childhood show is “The Wizards of Waverly Place” and she’s currently on her fourth rewatch. To contact her, you can email her at [email protected] or on 'X' (@Sriachanta_ ).

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    Sukirtha MuthiahMar 30, 2024 at 4:29 pm

    Great story Sri! I think everyone needs to read this as tune as possible!

    Reply