By Sarah Elizabeth Lahoud
UCC’s Music Department sits on top of the hill at Sunday’s Well Road. It’s a well-established fact amongst the music students and lecturers that climbing the mountain is at first a right of passage and soon nothing but a necessary evil. Early Mondays are a painful trek, and much practice will be forfeited at the weekend when the thought of that hike enters the tired and unprepared mind. And many, many pages of reading are completed on the computer because the thought of having to walk the twenty minutes to main campus to print them out is almost unthinkable.
The mountainous journey is something every music student gets quickly used to. We are (wishfully thinking) some of the fittest students on campus. Well, at least St. Patrick’s hill never daunted a music student. And the placement, or rather displacement, of the Music Department at the top of Sunday’s Well becomes a blessing in disguise for its remoteness and privacy. Feel free to bang out Beethoven as poorly and loudly as you like here. Individuals, groups, collaborations are all born in the halls as we hear each other and share our latest riffs and rhythms. None here have ever shied away from hard work or a horrific practice session. We know that loud, relentless, unseemly practice will yield beautiful results, and there’s nothing better than walking down the hallways in the evening and hearing the fruits of our labors echoing down the corridors.
The Music Department holds a special allure. Every empty classroom, every computer and study room, every lecturer’s office offers a place for creative academic thinking, a place for hard work, inspiration, and learning. Is it often cold and drafty? Yes. Is it labyrinthly mind-warpingly confusing to the outsider? Uh huh (that might be the point). Can it be a nightmare’s journey on those sky-falling, downpouring sort of October days? (Is that even a question?) But the sense of achievement for climbing the hill and for finally reaching the top still amazes me every morning. The breathtaking view of the city from our building’s vantage point inspires me every sunset. The familiar hallways, the sense of membership, the lit practice rooms late at night still welcome me every day. The building, a former monastery, blesses us with its nooks and crannies, its hideaways for practice and creativity. It inspires us to make music here. And then it rewards us for sharing our music by making the trip to the venues of the city all downhill.