Finding an Extra Voice

Alexander Strachan ’13 is learning to make a difference through music.

Alexander Strachan ’13 is learning to make a difference through music.

By Tony Moore

Choosing a college can be a challenging process, but for Alexander Strachan ’13, all it took was a visit to campus for a violin audition with Associate Professor of Music Blanka Bednarz.

“I said to myself, ‘I love it here. This is it,’ ” he says. “I just knew it from meeting Professor Bednarz that I wanted to be here. Even though I only had an hour with her, I felt like I had known her for years.”

Like many students, Strachan attends Dickinson with the help of a scholarship, and for him, receiving it was life-changing. “Before coming to Dickinson, I just wasn’t in an area where I had a lot of opportunities,” says the music major from Bowie, Md. “I think Dickinson is where my calling is, and thanks to financial aid, my parents could afford it.”

Last year Dickinson gave Strachan the opportunity to explore how music can cross international borders. During winter break, Bednarz helped him win a spot as a violinist for Sinfonietta Polonia, and he performed with the group throughout Poland on a two-week tour.

“It was really awesome to be able to perform in a different country,” says Strachan, who has come to see the violin as a way to transcend language. “For me the violin is my extra voice. It’s how I can sing. It’s how I can express those innermost feelings that sometimes can’t be put into words.”

Strachan’s goal is to use that extra voice to pursue a career in music therapy, and he cites the power of music to connect people and make a difference in the world as his greatest motivator.

“My grandmother has Alzheimer’s,” he explains, “and I’ve sat at the piano and played with her, and she tells me stories about how she’d play piano in church with the choir. So to be able to play the piano with her, it took her back, and if I hadn’t done this, she wouldn’t remember. If I can do that for other people, I’m happy. ... I hope I can continue on this path and spread the joy of music to people in need.”

Published December 11, 2012