Joshua Campbell sits down every day to play the piano. The routine helps him improve his craft, but that’s not the only reason behind his desire to play. For him, playing the piano helps him unwind after a long day.
Campbell is not alone. Students across USC are turning their artistic passion into a means of self-expression and a way to manage their academics.
From playing musical instruments to creating digital animations, there is lots of artistic presence on campus.
Second-year chemical engineering student Joshua Campbell has played the piano since he was little. But the piano hasn't always been enjoyable, he said.
"My parents put me in piano lessons when I was 6 or 7, and I hated them at first," Campbell said. "They were awful, but once I got a little better at the piano, I figured out I had a real passion for it.”
Playing the piano became a way to de-stress after a full day of classes, he said.
“I think that playing piano, specifically, is a very important emotional release for me because what I study in school is like the furthest thing from music," Campbell said. "My head's full of numbers and math and chemistry all day. And that can lead to a lot of mental clutter because I’m having to think through things all day.”
Campbell said his passion for music can be attributed to his piano teacher, who allowed him to experiment with different types of music.
“My piano teacher all throughout elementary, middle and high school was a big influence because when I was younger, of course, I had to play whatever was put in front of me," Campbell said. "But she encouraged me to explore specifically music that interested me. She wouldn’t beat me over the head with music I really didn’t want to play.”
Second-year music education student and clarinetist Quiara McBride also derives inspiration from her youth. She wants to make a difference in other musicians' lives as a band director — similar to what her director did for her, she said.
"One person I've looked to is my lesson teacher I had in middle school. He had such a great impact on me. He taught me all things clarinet and just made me a better person. And then, in 12th grade, he became my band director. So he really helped me decide where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do. He's one of the reasons why I'm here right now," McBride said.
McBride’s vision for her class rises above the typical classroom environment. She wants to create a safe space to provide emotional release for her students from other classes, she said.
“I want my band class to be the class (where) they’re like, 'Yay, I’m so excited. This is going to be such a release from everything,'" McBride said. "I want that to be like an escape."
Ellie Pruette, a second-year media arts student, had a similar sentiment. Her high school art teacher helped inspire her passion for digital art and animation through individualized teaching methods, she said.
"We had very personalized lessons, so it’s like there were a lot of people who were doing very traditional art in the class, but (the teacher) was always very respectful for the kind of art I liked to do,” Pruette said.
Pruette said there is a lot of personal fulfillment and pride to be had when drawing and coming up with new ideas.
"It’s really nice — the feeling you get after you’ve spent all night working on a project, and you’re finally able to sit back and look at it and be proud of what you’ve made,” Pruette said.
Pruette is looking to merge her interests in animation and illustration to go into a media arts-related career path. She wants to utilize her digital art skills and apply it to a more profitable market, such as graphic designing, she said.
"Art has probably been one of the biggest influences in my life," Pruette said. "I've had some really amazing artist friends over my life that have pushed me to be better. And I've learned so much from them."