Assistant Professor of Music
B.A., Macalester College
M.M., University of Minnesota
D.M.A., University of Iowa
What is your favorite class to teach and why?
My favorite class to teach is Coe's Concert Choir. First, we're making great music together. I find making music, especially singing together, to be such a powerful action. It engages your brain, body, and spirit in a way that not all classes do. Concert Choir is also an opportunity for me to work with many of my students for all eight of their semesters on campus (or at least seven, if they are studying abroad or student teaching). To see students learn and grow over that time period is a real treat and there is a continuity present that isn't the same in a history or theory class. One of our class objectives is "to become, through music, better musicians and better human beings" and actively participating in that process four days a week is really rewarding.
Name your most memorable performance and what it meant to you.
One of my favorite Coe performing moments was our Concert Choir tour to Costa Rica last January, a transformative trip for me and many of our students. We were there for two weeks (during Coe's winter break) and performed four concerts, in between playing on the beach, zip-lining through the cloud forest, horseback riding, dancing, boating, and eating lots of great food. Our concerts had large and appreciative audiences and to see people hugging each other, laughing, crying, and so clearly emotionally connecting to our singing was a great experience. Traveling together really unified the Concert Choir and helped give us a stronger sense of community within the group. It was also a memorable trip for me for a number of personal reasons. I had been on a similar choir tour to Costa Rica as an undergraduate singer, and it was fun to help my students have the same sort of international musical experience (though actually, this one was much better). Also, my wife, Ana, and our one year-old son, Zach (as well as my mom, aunt, uncle, and cousin) came along for the tour; so it became a bit of a family extravaganza.
What is your favorite website?
The two sites I spend the most time on are the New York Times (delivery to where we live, out in the country between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, takes two days, and reading the Sunday Times on Tuesday night just isn't the same) and Sports Illustrated. Unbeknownst to many, I'm a huge sports fan (somehow it just never comes up during Medieval and Renaissance Music History) and SI has good sports coverage and some excellent columnists. I'm also a frequent visitor to both the Onion and Fark.com for brief hits of humor and weird news between classes.
What book are you currently reading?
I'm writing this in early June and I always like to start the summer with some really trashy reading - spending time with authors (John Sanford, Stephen King, etc.) and genres (detective stories, sci-fi, horror) that it's harder to justify time spent reading during the academic year. I've also been working on Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe and Cartoon History of the Modern World, looking for ways to incorporate them into my music history courses, and reading a lot of Dr. Seuss and other children's books with Zach.
What is your favorite Coe tradition?
One Coe tradition that I'm always touched by is the ringing of the bell. At the very first convocation for first-year students during orientation week all the new students line up and each rings the bell before processing through two lines of faculty (in full regalia) who applaud the students and welcome them to Coe. Four years later, in the hour just before commencement, these same students will again ring the bell and process between the two lines of faculty, now applauding them for their accomplishments and to congratulate them on their graduation.
What advice would you give a prospective student?
One piece of advice I give any prospective student I encounter is to be sure to do a campus visit and overnight stay if you can. Meeting professors, staff, Admissions counselors, and your tour guide, and visiting classes, ensembles, the dining hall, and campus buildings are all good and very important, but don't forget that a great deal (in fact, the majority) of your time at Coe will be spent outside of the classroom. As you look at schools and narrow your search, be sure that you're comfortable with the overall vibe of campus, dorms, nightlife, student activities, etc., as well as the academics and academic buildings.