In Experiential Learning, Students

Music student Candace Gunn shares how an experiential learning opportunity has enhanced her time at BYU

Breathe. It’s ok. There’s no rush. “Vienna waits for you,” as Billy Joel reminded me in his song, Vienna. After a hectic week of finals and hurried packing, I was flying on several jet planes to Vienna, the city of music. Finally, now I could breathe. Now I could relax and live every musician’s dream, to experience the lifestyles of the great composers and to hear and breathe in the most beautiful music in the world — or could I? Did I actually know how to breathe?

I had brought my oboe along with me so that I could learn alongside these amazing musicians and become one of them. Other members of the Vienna study abroad had also brought their instruments with them so that they could learn from the masters. When we gathered as a group each Sunday and reported our favorite experiences from the week, people would talk about their incredible lessons and invariably they would say, “We went back to the basics. Breathing.”

I too needed to take a step back in my oboe playing and learn about breathing. My teacher explained every single tiny detail that contributed to a good breath— my steady feet, my angled hips and my aligned back. With a good breath, out came beautiful tone from my oboe. Sometimes I would forget to properly breathe and the tone would have no sparkle and the notes would haphazardly come out of my oboe. When I remember to breathe in life, it is wonderful, just like the gorgeous tone of a well-played oboe in Vienna. Forgetting to stop and breathe in life can be as disastrous as a badly played oboe. 

It took time to be able to figure out how to breathe properly for my oboe playing, and it also takes practice to learn how to slow down in life and take a second to breathe amidst all the rush. I’m not always good at it. But I can become good at it. A guest speaker on my study abroad told us about the Viennese tradition of sitting at coffee shops and just chilling with people. As I learn to breathe as a musician and as a person, the memory of the Viennese culture reminds me to slow down and wait a while. Wait and don’t stress; it will be ok, because “Vienna waits for you.”

The publication of student articles allows the College of Fine Arts and Communications to highlight the experiential learning opportunities and behind-the-scenes experiences of students and faculty and tell stories with a unique voice and point of view. Submit your story at

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