College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Full Title of Thesis or Dissertation

Playing from memory: Essays on music in life

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

Writing & Publishing


folk music, memoir, music, personal essay


In five personal essays, this creative-writing project delves into several of the author’s musical experiences, reflecting on the ways in which music informs and illuminates our lives and helps us to forge our identities. As a whole, the essays explore questions such as, What can our attraction to different instruments tell us about ourselves as individuals and about our cultures? How should artists balance the desire for critical approval with the impetus to explore the joy of creating, regardless of an audience? Is music, fundamentally, a private or a shared experience? Specific topics covered include the accordion, the carillon, a community marching band, a college radio station, and a traditional Siberian folk culture.