Article by Isabel Quah

The IB is infamous amongst students for taking away from their social lives, cherished hours of sleep and freedom from stress. In fact, it is easy to mistake a normal school day for a circus act as students daily juggle the influx of school work, extracurricular commitments, and requirements for CAS all while trying to just keep their eyes open from sleep deprivation. As a result of this, students have the option of dropping their electives for a free study period upon reaching their junior year. For many, this offers precious breathing space, but for others it is a missed opportunity for pursuing a music class.

Junior Bryan Kang belongs to the latter group and says he decided to continue his music class instead of getting a study hall because he says, “participating in [his] music class would be more enjoyable and useful.” Bryan adds, that “[music] creates a temporary pause from excessive studying.”

The thrill of making and performing beautiful music—especially at school events—certainly offers an appealing form of stress relief and intellectual stimulation. However, while some are able to manage their time efficiently to leave room for this, others find it more difficult given that precious time will be consumed by obligatory practice at home, arduous rehearsals and scheduled performances. One student—who has requested to remain anonymous—recently dropped his or her music class in exchange for a study hall saying, “When classes started and a vast amount of work started to hit me, I realized that I needed some time to rest at school, so I decided to drop my music class.”

Band teacher Tom Nazareno, while understanding the sacrifices made by students to continue pursuing a music class, begs to differ: “My take on students still taking band classes in their junior or senior years with the stress of IB? GOOD FOR THEM! The mother of my former student Jenny Choi told me: ‘At home Jenny does her assignments with the flute always next to her so that if she gets tired she can pick it up and play a tune. After that she goes back to finishing her assignment.’”

Ultimately, as these testimonies show, the decision rests on the individual: is it better to keep a music class but lose out on time to catch up with other classes or opt for a study hall but give up an alternate form of stress relief and intellectual stimulation? Music can be a stress reliever, but at the same time a commitment that students must weigh carefully.


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