Freely, Into Everything Beyond Self

(Art troupe submission) At least with the mallets in hand, I can freely choose not to be myself.

This article is a submission to the biannual journal of the wind band of the student art troupe of Tsinghua University; June 2022, No. 57.
Auto-translated from Chinese by DeepL🪐. Inaccuracies may arise.


To become the thunder of spring, to wake up everything that has survived the cold and wind, to hear the trumpet of joy of the life of the world.

To be surrounded by the warmth of Spain in the monsoon breeze, and to pass through the scented estates of Provence.

To pick up bouquets of flowers and wander through the sweet orange conservatories and cafes of Paris, gazing curiously at the theatre stages of the night.

Tying on a yukata, hanging a written wish on a bamboo branch and gazing up at the fireworks and stars with the people you love.

It seems like a place where you can be everything other than yourself.


From the moment the music starts, it seems that the people in the band are no longer 'themselves'.

All the things that brought joy and trouble to the 'self' - appearance, voice, gender, age, studies, work - all disappear for a brief moment. I lose my name and flee my original skin to become a small bell and lyre, a bell and drum, a wooden fish; or, alternatively, a firework, a winter wind, a mountain range, a wave, a dance, a mountain song, a trumpet of courage, a heartbeat of love, everything that is brilliant and romantic in the world.

The sound of the instrument is my voice, my emotions are the emotions of the instrument. I am no longer the person with the colourful labels and inextricable ties in my life, but I am fully integrated with the instruments and the orchestra, purely part of the music.

When I was caught off guard by the conductor's mention of the words "timpani" during a rehearsal, I realised that the instrument that had accompanied me through my career as a second unit had already left an indelible mark on me; and that many more instruments would accompany me for as long in the future.

I will be as embarrassed as if I had been named after the conductor's comment that "the xylophone needs to be practised"; I will be quietly sad that I cannot "be" my favourite instrument in my favourite piece of music.

But at least when you pick up the mallet, you are free to choose not to be yourself anymore.


"Conductor" must be a heavy word. When you take the conductor's chair, you have to do everything you can to accommodate the trust of the orchestra and the audience.

What exactly does a conductor do during a performance? A friend raised this question curiously, but I was lost in thought as to how to respond. Perhaps I could say it is to infect the band with emotion and make the music more expressive?

Sitting under the stage in the second band saloon, standing in the lights of the first band, watching the student conductors draw a pattern against the starry backdrop, a feeling of awe came over me. Down, left, right, up - it wasn't until I watched the second team salon that I suddenly realised how simple and sacred these diagrams were, like an ancient and profound spell drawn by a magic wand; and how the conductor, like a psychic, casts a high light on the orchestra and the music with power drawn from a mysterious place.

Perhaps the conductor also ceases to be himself, but becomes the embodiment of the spirituality and sacredness of the music?


Can I be a conductor? I don't know. I asked 31, I asked bw, I asked X, I asked Q. Everyone said expectantly that it would be fine, that it would be great.

But I still don't know why everyone trusts me so much. Sometimes I wonder if I'm really not very good at this kind of thing, the walking INFP stereotype.

I get so caught up in the music that I forget to nitpick, I panic and try to find out from the wind section if I can do it... a bit more, I worry and say "you don't have to try too hard if you're tired", I want to dig a hole in the conductor's desk, and I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to do it when I'm not. They would want to dig a hole in the ground on the conductor's platform, apologise desperately on stage when they had let down expectations and wasted everyone's time, and let tears flow down their faces when they were comforted and encouraged by zy, zh, bw, X and wr from outside the team.

But when I was trying to understand the lyrics of the parade music, writing notes on the score, pinpointing 46 seconds in the mirror, and holding the flagpole to make a beat, I was infected by something else from the inside.

It doesn't matter if your personality doesn't fit, because the front of the band is full of possibilities outside of yourself.

The next time you stand in front of everyone, you'll be a better person.


The vocal rehearsal of the second band was full of good memories - the second band that had just finished playing at the salon, although it's a bit strange to say that.

Perhaps it was the familiarity of the instruments and the right level of difficulty that made it more palatable, but more so because of the fun, lovely people. It's also like a mirror of what the music looks like in your own mind, of the pure joy you once experienced in the second unit.

It may always seem like a boring task of tinkering with everyone in the ensemble, but when the vibrations of the air and the ground spread throughout the space, moving the body and mind to resonate together, it was only then that the audience in the salon was finally struck by the shining beauty of the humanity that the music carried. It was hard not to cry at the tingling sensation that ran through my body as I watched each and every musical passage that flowed freely on stage, from my youthful days to the long story behind the near-perfect rendition of "Hit the Fire" and the long story told by YD.

After one of the rehearsals, Sy said that I like to compliment people, but everyone's efforts and achievements are so touching.

A year and a half ago, late at night after the second team's debut, I received an excited private poke from ccy, and now that I finally felt the same way, I couldn't help but send a message of praise to everyone during the interval, and afterwards, I came on stage to brag about it. Not bringing a bouquet to the salon must have been the biggest regret of this year at the band.

Maybe I've become part of the second team?


The flowers are similar year after year.

The same pieces, the same exercises, have been repeated countless times and will be passed on to one generation after another to be reproduced again and again in the future.

The people are different from year to year.

People have come here, laughed and cried, been happy and troubled; then waved goodbye, becoming a few lightly written leaden words in the journal, leaving the stage to the best apprentices of the future, sealing the untold stories hidden behind each year and each performance.

I am sad to see the people around me leave, for they will go with a part of me to faraway places; but we will also take a part of each of us, a part of the music we have made together, and run off to a wider future, to become the shapes we want to be.

May the wind of wind music always resonate with your hearts; may friends of your career look to you to be free to become yourselves, or everything beyond yourselves.

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