Friday, September 30, 2016

Experiencing Music: In the Classroom and in the City

As I conquer the fall semester of my senior year, I’m really lucky to have two music classes that count towards my minor and also for my own personal enrichment--Music Before 1600 and Music Theory I. Music Before 1600 is a really special class for me. My professor, Dr. Eric Bianchi, also taught my Intro to Music History course, and his dynamic and energetic teaching style definitely inspired my decision to become a music minor. In that class, I’m challenged to look at and discuss the significance of ancient pieces of music that I don’t get to hear quite often. I also get to enhance my musicianship skills by transcribing Gregorian chants into modern musical notation--all of which have contributed to my greater appreciation for Gregorian chant music and early polyphonic songs. As someone who already appreciates listening to and performing music, Music Theory has been a great way for me to learn the technical side of music and how to study the process of notating music correctly. My professor, Dr. DeCusatis, utilizes the piano and actively plays out intervals, triads, and scales, and gets us to sing along with him. By the time we’re done playing out these notes on the piano, these concepts are permanently engraved in our minds for our homework and for future musical reference.
An excerpt of a Gregorian chant that I had to transcribe for homework.
Instead of a textbook, Dr. DeCusatis has "Brain Organizers" to teach us Music Theory lessons instead.

But music not only comes in the form of academic study. As a student in NYC, these music theory concepts can definitely be applied to live performances or concerts that we can attend. Last week, I was able to attend Idina Menzel’s album release party at the Brooklyn Bowl where she previewed some songs off of her new album right before it dropped. It was an intimate venue and, I have to admit, I was singing and dancing along to her songs while trying to apply some music theory concepts to what I was hearing, as nerdy as that can be. Is she singing in a major or minor key? What meter is this song in? Can I identify any triads that I might be familiar with? It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience to be at an album release party, but what made it even better was knowing that I had gained some musical knowledge to dig even deeper to Idina Menzel’s new songs.

Idina Menzel singing at the Brooklyn Bowl!

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