Last semester, I wrote about performance groups on campus, exploring how they have incorporated themselves into the University lifestyle and what they have done to have a unique presence on campus. If you are in a performance group, you have had the great opportunity to bond with others who share the same desire to create a craft. For any of you who know me, I am part of a group on campus called Groove. We are casually known as “those guys that play trash cans,” but we are much more than that. But more than anything, this group has made my college experience absolutely wonderful.

I came into college a quiet, nervous percussionist who felt most comfortable at the back of the band or hidden in the pit orchestra. Yes, percussion and drumming are not the typical instruments of an introvert, but damn were they fun to play. I had started when I was just a wee fourth-grader, so naturally I gravitated towards the percussion section.

Flash forward to freshman year, hearing Groove playing on overturned and painted recycling bins during Festifall. I wanted to try out, but I was just too chicken. I was scared that it would be a male-dominated group, much too frightening for this little freshman girl to dive right into. But throughout the year, I watched my long-time friend rock out on stage at his Groove shows. It was during those shows when I realized, “I could so play that.” It wasn’t anything I couldn’t do if I practiced enough. I thought, “how cool would it be for me to be in a group dedicated solely to music?!” It was after the first Groove show I saw that I vowed to myself to try out the next year. My life needed music, something that I had been doing since I was three years old. To just stop cold turkey when I got to college made the transition from home to school even more difficult. I needed to be a part of something that had always been a part of me.

The next year, I tried out. I got my acceptance e-mail. I cried. I was undeniably happy. To the Groovers reading this, yes, I did actually cry. I was chosen to be a part of a group that wanted me because of my talents, not for how I appeared. It was at that point that I started to become comfortable with who I was. Groove helped me come out of my shell and be more outgoing. You cannot be a shy individual and stand on stage in front of 1,500 people. The combination exists, but it is difficult to manage. You become uninhibited, and you learn and absorb the other personalities of the group. We are only about 30 people, but the alumni and dedicated fans make this a well developed network that makes me love what I do.

Groove has helped me to expand my artistic abilities, my music writing, to grow in leadership roles and be exposed to new types of music genres. Let’s not forget that I have now gone from hiding in the back of my band to doing a battle cry on stage in front of hundreds of people, dressing like a hippie from Soul Train and acting as Ursula the Sea Witch, more excited than nervous to be out on that stage. I strive for showing the public what Groove and I have been able to accomplish in these past three years.

But to be honest, I am terrified to leave these people. Love does not even begin to describe how I feel toward these people with whom I spend countless hours, practices, chill sessions, parties and heart-to-hearts. We share a craft building music and instruments together.

To you out there who is a part of a group on campus, be thankful that you are a member and realize what you have gained from such a group. If you are still searching for your group, keep looking. You will find something that makes you happy, that makes you want to never leave this University. As I prepare to depart from this group when I graduate in a few short weeks, I want to thank my fellow Groovers who inspired personal growth in my personality, my character and my capacity to love a group of strange and wonderful people.

Sara Shamaskin can be reached at scsham@umich.edu.

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