Student Profile: Diana Daniels '22
by Lydia Silver '25
May 11, 2022
Lydia: Hi, Diana, thanks for talking with me today. Tell me about your involvement in the music program at Amherst College.
Diana: It's been quite a journey. I've been involved in Orchestra for all my time here. I play oboe and English horn and I'm also in a jazz group. I've been involved in what was formerly known as combos—small group performance here—for all my time. I play alto saxophone currently, but have played around with tenor and soprano too. I did more big band stuff my first year. I've also been on eboard of jazz for a few years, so I'm currently president of jazz eboard. And yeah, we do a lot of planning for events and formals, and that sort of thing. I've been involved in taking lessons also every year. So every semester, I take like two lessons for an instrument or voice or something like that, to either learn something new or keep my practicing up. So that's my involvement, I would say. Yes, I spend a lot of my time here.
So what else have you done at Amherst—what interests and activities?
I have been involved in the Food Justice Alliance for a few years. It's basically working to improve our food systems on campus specifically. I also work on the farm and I run a radio show—a jazz radio show. It's kind of been passed down through the years, between different people in the department. Those are the main things. I spend most of my time outside of class doing music.
Do you have a favorite musical memory from the program or extracurricular groups here?
I had a lot of fun a few years ago. Some friends and I played at Fall Fest. We had a little band and it was just playing different pop covers, but it was so much fun. It was a very different way of being involved in music on campus, organizing outside of the department, which can be great as well.
We've played a lot of stuff in orchestra that has been really meaningful for me. I was never in an orchestra before college, only ever in a wind ensemble, like Symphonic Band in high school and middle school. The musical education that I've gotten from being in that student group has meant a lot to me. I will go back and listen to these pieces that we've played, just to immerse myself in the experience of what it felt like to play them. I've had a lot of opportunities to have meaningful experiences here. I took a class on Vienna and we got to go there during spring break. That was an insane experience that I would never have gotten otherwise and I got to experience watching a lot of really powerful music on that trip too.
That's wonderful. Do you have any advice for college students who love music, who want to be involved in it?
I would say take every opportunity to get involved or to perform—even if it's something as low stakes as Coffee Haus. Sign up for that, get more time performing, or even take a music class. Anything you do will be super helpful, informative, and fun for you, whether it's a class, performing at Coffee Haus, or taking a music lesson. I've talked to a lot of people who say, I've always wanted to learn this thing, but I don't know, will they have an instrument for me? And it's just always worth it to ask and find out. Like, I started playing banjo this past year. And it's been one of the best experiences ever. So, I think just not it’s good not to hesitate when you want to do something or want to learn something, and not be afraid to reach out to other musicians and ask them to jam together and play together. Because it's a really special opportunity to be around so many other people that want to make music. Once you leave college, you can still do it, but it's so much easier when you have this community. And I think there's a really good one within and outside of the department here.
That brings me to my final question. What's next for you? After Amherst College? If you know–
I don't have any concrete plans, but I do plan on spending the summer traveling in Europe. For a lot of June I'll be in Spain with my friends going back to places that we were abroad and showing them to each other before we got sent home due to the pandemic. And then I'll probably spend a lot of July and August farming in different places there. I just kind of want to take a break and relax for a bit. And I want to live outside of the country too, though I don't know if that'll pan out for this coming year; I might end up going home for a bit but we'll see. There are so many opportunities. For now I'm not putting too much pressure on it, and just taking advantage of the opportunity to relax a bit after graduation.