Stories

LISTENING BETWEEN THE NOTES

Sikander, 24, has been up and down, east and west – but the one thing that stays the same is his violin.

I love New York City and I’m proud have been born and raised here.

The city has so much energy and opportunities, and I’ve always been drawn to its diversity and openness. Especially in the arts scene, I could go see any high-quality performance and concert — ones that would be rare to see elsewhere.

At the same time, it’s an extremely draining city. I’m surrounded by people all the time. Though I’m now more extroverted, it’s still stressful being around so many people and it adds to my own stress.

I’ve always looked toward music to ground me. It’s therapeutic. It’s consoling, and soothing.

In middle school, I spent every lunch period in the orchestra room, playing violin. I hung out with my music teacher, I’d learn new pieces and practice my craft. In high school, my habits followed me, and I focused even more of my time on music when I was stressed out.

During times of trouble with my friends and family, I knew I could go to the orchestra room and take out my violin. The orchestra room became my sanctuary.

When I moved away, I found less time for my music. I worked in Turkey after graduating from college, and played less even though I tried looking for new mediums in music to explore.

I eventually got a new job and moved back to New York City but found myself unhappy in my work, but one thing changed. I rediscovered time to play my violin. I worked more than 40 hours a week doing a job that didn’t satisfy me, but knowing I could come home to music helped me get through the day.

I started traveling more for work, and quickly found it tiring having to stay at different hotels. But I started taking my violin with me to play in my free time wherever I could get it. It helped free my stress and made me forget the things I didn’t like about my job.

Even though I’ve moved a lot, music is the constant thing that keeps me going.

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