Molly Nolan, an international student from Scotland studying at Harvard College is a finalist for the ISV Magazine Margaret W. Wong Scholarship. Read her essay here!

“Dum dum du— no, dum dum dee.”

Music is hard to play and harder still to compose, and attempting to explain the sentiment behind each note can be one of the most difficult tasks of all. In my time as a music student in Scotland, I have encountered theories abound in relation to the connection we feel to music of varying genres. Certainly, it is an appeal to our human predisposition to be aesthetically pleased, but I think it’s something more: a desire to reassure ourselves that others experience the same feelings as we do.

Music’s biggest draw for me has always been its social aspect. I’ve met the vast majority of my friends through the study of music and its emotional pull fascinates me every day. I’ve composed music in several styles, and performed it with some of my closest collaborators. Having the opportunity to attend such a world-class university, however, has made it abundantly clear to me how much I don’t yet know.

In the United States, and at Harvard especially, there is a kind of cultural diversity that supersedes the wealth of experiences found in Scotland. Partially due to the melting pot of cultures that coexist in the US, and partly because of the size of population, there exists traditions and history in America that far outweigh what can be found in my home country.

Of course, our own heritage is vast and rich, but it endures alongside little else. My own pieces of music, composed as they are with people in mind, lack a diversity that only the United States can bring about.

At college, I want to step away from the technicalities of composition and truly try to understand music, first and foremost the basic human demand that we all have for form,
harmony and expression. I aim to be a responsive, sensitive composer; one affected with a knowledge of people, place and heritage.

My name is Molly Nolan. I am not yet a finely-tuned composer. In studying music in one of the most diverse countries on the planet, however, I am safe in the knowledge that one day I will be.

[typography font=”Lobster” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Molly Nolan[/typography]

Home Country: Scotland

University/College: Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts

margaret w. wong scholarship international student voice magazine

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