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Finn Conaway '24

Finn Conaway ‘24, a music and political science double-major, strives to bring joy to others through music. Self-fulfillment and personal growth are part of why he loves to perform, but the main reason is that he likes to make others feel good.

Conaway picked up the trumpet in the third grade. He recalls an elementary school project where his class built instruments out of pipes and made mouth pieces from bottle caps. His classmates had a difficult time getting sounds from the homemade horns. “I picked [one] up and a pretty clear horn sound came out and the teacher was like, ‘Alright, you need to play trumpet immediately.’ And so I've been playing ever since.” 

Living in Arkansas up until the ninth grade, Conaway played in concert band and marching band. “Then I moved out to Oregon during freshman year, and I did basically everything my school had to offer, which was concert band, wind ensemble, jazz ensemble, pit orchestra, and then all types of honor bands.” Also a member of  the swim team, Swarthmore was his first choice when he applied to college because it offered a music department and the opportunity to swim. “I knew coming into college that I was definitely going to be a music major. I'd thought about just going to [conservatory], but they didn't have a swim team,” he reflects. While at Swarthmore, Conaway became interested in political science, and has since become a double major in music and political science. 

Outside of classes, much of Conaway's time at Swarthmore has been spent at the pool. His team won the Conference Championship sophomore, junior, and senior year. More important than trophies is the community he’s found through swimming, Conaway says. “I came into Swarthmore COVID-year and it was obviously hard for people to make friends but I had that social grounding [from swimming] which was really important.” 

When it comes to music, Conaway describes himself as “a two trick pony.” He plays in both Jazz Ensemble and Orchestra and says, “I've never liked to put myself in one box because I think that there's aspects of performance in each of those two styles that translate to the other.” The technical side of classical and the stylistic freedom of jazz combine in his music. He believes that, “You have to learn the rules in classical and then know how to break them in jazz.”

A blend of classical and jazz is exactly what Conaway plans to perform at his senior recital, which will take place on Friday, April 5th at 4:30 PM at the Lang Concert Hall. He says, “I chose the repertoire mostly based on pieces I think sound interesting and represent my strengths on the trumpet.” The performance will feature classical works by J.B Arban and Franz Joseph Haydn, along with a variety of jazz compositions. 

Although Conaway’s plans for after graduation aren’t concrete yet, he is considering graduate school, and might try coaching swimming for a year or two after Swarthmore. One thing is certain, he says, “I’m definitely going to keep playing the trumpet.”


Favorite music course at Swarthmore: Jazz Ensemble

Favorite music-making experience at Swarthmore: A professor called me into office hours as he was proposing to his girlfriend and wanted a small outdoor jazz performance. So I got two or three people from the Jazz Ensemble, and we prepared a little set and played when they walked in and proposed. 

What you'll miss about Swat: Definitely the people. I feel like I’ve made a lot of close friends.

Sound or noise that you love: The trumpet.

Sound or noise that you hate: My phone alarm.

Last song you listened to: "Nasty * Nasty * Spell" by Camellia

Final thoughts: There’s a lot you can do within the music pathway, and it’s sometimes hard to know everything you can do but there are a lot of good mentors within the program that can help you.