Alums are saying . . .

 

Michiko Inouye, ‘14

I enjoyed all the classes that I took in the Music Department at Wellesley, but I am especially glad that I took piano lessons with Prof. Lois Shapiro, as well as 344 (Performance Workshop). I think that over the four years, and particularly my junior and senior years when I was enrolled in 344,  I definitely grew as a performer -- not only in improving my technique, but also in adopting a more healthy, open, and sincere mentality towards playing for an audience.

Currently I am in Japan doing research in neural stem cells and working mainly with fruit flies... I am also taking piano lessons once a month. Although being a music major did not directly help me get to my current situation in Japan, in another, perhaps more profound way, it has helped me maintain a sense of flexibility and creativity in my approach to various challenges. For example, in music when one is met with a passage that is puzzling and difficult to interpret, one can try playing it in various ways to see what kind of interpretation sounds organic and true to the story of the piece. Analyzing the music and researching the history of the composer to get clues as to what the passage might mean also helps. I've found myself adopting this same sort of approach at the lab, where I oftentimes get results that are at first uninterpretable, and then think about the possible explanations, stories behind the phenomena. I really do believe that I've started approaching challenges in this way from having studied music in its various aspects - theory, history, and performance - intensively during my time at Wellesley.

 

May-Elise Martinsen ‘12

The best thing for me about being a music major was the support and flexibility the faculty gave me to pursue my interests. When I approached the faculty my sophomore year saying I wanted to write two-act musical for my senior thesis, no one said, "That's not a traditional thesis," or "You have almost no composition experience - how do you think you can do this?" Rather, my professors came on board and started helping me think about how to achieve the goal. They encouraged me to apply for a self-designed study abroad program in Norway and helped me structure a creatively and academically fulfilling thesis project.

I also always appreciated how much extra time the faculty put into my personal growth - scheduling extra lessons when I needed it and setting up time to talk about my dreams post-college. I don't think I would have had that luxury if I'd been in a bigger department with more students competing for attention. Even after graduation, I've been grateful for the continued support from the faculty in applying for graduate school and pursuing my musical theatre writing. It's a department that keeps on nurturing its students.

Right now, I'm wrapping up two years of writing and producing my musical webseries, 59 Days in New York. I can safely say that I would not have been able to tackle this beast without the music department. Within the two years I worked with her, Prof. Jenny Johnson took me from knowing virtually nothing about composition to writing and orchestrating several full-length pieces. Also, because my interdisciplinary thesis encouraged me to experiment with writing for different mediums, like film, and a diverse styles of composing, I've had the confidence to experiment within my musical webseries. For instance, with 59 Days, I have written everything from an all male a cappella number to a country ballad in the style of Dolly Parton to an all-instrumental ballroom dream ballet.

On a separate note, many members of the music department have given me direct support since graduation. Prof. Brody spent time reviewing my compositions. And Andrea Matthews has saved my sanity on multiple occasions when I call with producing questions, like "My pianist can no longer make it to tomorrow's recording session, but I still need a finished piece by Sunday; what do I do?"


Jennifer Ritvo Hughes ‘06

I am currently the Executive Director of Cantata Singers, a choir and orchestra in Boston in its 51st season. In my role, I am responsible for the overall management and oversight of Cantata Singers’ finances, development, operations, artistic performances, educational outreach and long-range planning as the group’s chief administrative officer.

I value the small class sizes and the access to faculty. The amount of support offered to students as we grow intellectually and as performers--be it lessons, music and language coachings, performance seminars, library research assistance, or office hours--is truly unparalleled. 

The Wellesley College Music Department taught me not just to hear music deeply and analytically, but also gave me the skills to communicate that knowledge to others with clarity and passion. These skills inform how I do my job every day--whether it's writing marketing plans that serve both the music and our audiences, developing a budget that allows us to present music of the highest quality while still being fiscally responsible, or speaking with a donor about our exciting plans for the future, 

 

Katie Sundstrom ‘14

What I like about the Wellesley Music Department, where I am today, and how the Wellesley Music Department got me there.

Lessons: During my four years at Wellesley I took voice and piano lessons. My teachers and coaches were world-class performers and instructors who were truly invested in my growth as a student, musician, and person. They not only taught me technique on my instruments, but also nurtured my musicality, prepared me for a career as a musician, provided me with support-systems away from home, and helped me find musical opportunities both at Wellesley and in the larger community. Their commitment to my success defined my college years, taught me my own value and potential, and changed my life.

Courses: The abundant amount of individual instruction I received from the Wellesley College Music Department was one of the most incredible aspects of my college education. During my four year at Wellesley, I completed the equivalent of 15 semesters of private lessons, 8 semesters of one-on-one coachings, 4 semesters of small-group conducting lessons through the Choral Scholar program, 3 semesters of independent study with professors, and 2 semesters of thesis work. Whether there was a topic in which I felt I needed extra instruction or an area in which I wanted to pursue advanced study, the Wellesley music faculty were eager to develop an independent study curriculum that would fan my spark of interest into a flame. The amount of time I spent one-on-one with the world’s leading musicians and scholars made my time at Wellesley invaluable.

Opportunities: The Music Department offered me spectacular opportunities outside of class. As a sophomore and a Choral Scholar, I made my European conducting debut with the Wellesley College Choir at St. Jeronimos Monastery in Portugal. My junior year, I was awarded Music Department funding for a summer music program that expanded my musical horizons. My senior year, the Music Department faculty encouraged me to apply for a Jerome A. Schiff Fellowship to support my Music Department honors performance thesis. The fellowship funded diction coachings, vocal coachings, and opportunities for me to observe the best performers in the New York and Boston areas. I entered the Wellesley music department my first year as a student. By the time I graduated four years later, I was a scholar and a musician. I credit much of this growth to the incredible thesis experience I had through the Music Department.

Where I am Now: I am currently earning my Master of Music in Music Education with a concentration in Vocal Performance at William Paterson University of New Jersey. As my senior year at Wellesley progressed, I considered every potential “next step” that Wellesley and the world offered me, from fellowships that would take me across the globe, to jobs and graduate schools close to home. Almost every professor in the music department—from those I was closest with, to one with whom I had never even had a class—generously sat down with me, often on multiple occasions, to listen to my career goals and brainstorm ways to get me there. As I narrowed down my options, faculty carefully examined the William Paterson program and expressed their opinions on its value for my education and career. Not only did the Music Department faculty provide me with an exceptional education while I was their student, but they went out of their way to guide and support my endeavors as I moved beyond Wellesley. They continue to do so today. The relationships I formed with Music Department faculty will be life-long, and I could not be more grateful.

 

Karen Chan Barrett ‘06

What I liked about the department: There are so many things I liked about the Music Department as it was truly my home base while I was at Wellesley.  I love that the Music Department is small and intimate (there were many people involved in ensembles but the number of majors and minors were relatively small).  It was very easy to meet and interact with fellow students and of course all the faculty members. While I was at Wellesley, I found the department to be completely supportive and kind. One of the biggest strengths of the department lies in the wonderful faculty members that teach there. Even if you do not have an opportunity to take classes or work directly with each faculty member, I believe all the faculty members in the Music Department act as teachers and mentors, taking their duties as educators quite seriously.  My advisors Charles Fisk and Martin Brody always went above and beyond to mentor me, both in music and in life, giving generously with their time and advice.  And of course, my experience was deeply shaped by my fantastic and creative lessons with Lois Shapiro.  Lois did not approach piano performance purely to make me a better player or "technician" but to make me a better thinker, giving me different ways of conceptualizing and approaching music. Through Lois and the Wellesley music department, I developed my own musical voice and independence.  My time at Wellesley and the input of the faculty members were formative in my development as a musician.

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Music Theory and Cognition at Northwestern University.  After I majored in music from Wellesley College, I went directly to Peabody Conservatory of Music where I did double master's degrees in Musicology (under Piero Weiss and Richard Giarusso) and Piano Performance (under Marian Hahn and Yong Hi Moon).  From there, I went on to the Ph.D. program at Northwestern University.  While writing my dissertation, for the last 1.5 years I have been teaching introductory Music Cognition classes to graduate students and undergraduate students at Peabody Conservatory of Music and Johns Hopkins University.  The Wellesley College Music Department's support and preparation were necessary for me to pursue graduate degrees in music. Because of the rigorous academic music classes at Wellesley as well as the plethora of performance opportunities, I felt completely prepared to tackle graduate degrees in music.  Moreover, the faculty members in the music department have continued to help me even past my time as a student at Wellesley, whether through the writing of recommendation letters, dispensing of career advice, or allowing me to practice music cognition talks for the department whenever I come back to visit.  Now that I have been a student in a variety of academic environments, it makes me value my time at Wellesley even more.  Wellesley is a unique place.  Very few places give so much to their students, providing so much one-on-one support and help in allowing their students to develop and grow.

Double-Major: Music and Neuroscience. 

 

Natasha Roule 11

As a student in the Music Department, I studied the viola da gamba privately and participated in the Chamber Music Society, the Wellesley-Brandeis Orchestra, and the Collegium Musicum.  As a member of several ensembles, I learned how to work with fellow students who played different instruments than I, as well as how to collaborate with the music professionals who make up Wellesley’s superb performance faculty.  In addition to spending challenging and rewarding hours in the practice room and on the stage, I also took seminars on music theory and music history.  Coursework and music-making intersected continuously to create deeply rich experiences that opened my ears to new music and ideas.  The dialogue between the stage and the classroom, fellow performers and fellow classmates, also transformed the music department into a community and a home.  While I spent a great deal of time in the department, I felt that being a music student integrated me more deeply into the broader college community.  My performance venues ranged across campus, from Houghton Chapel to the campus center, and my classes touched on subjects that I studied in many other departments such as history and language.

The time that I spent in Wellesley’s Music Department practicing my instrument, working with the performance faculty, and writing seminar papers cultivated in me a desire to build my career in music.  I am currently completing my PhD in historical musicology at Harvard University.  My working dissertation, “Reviving Lully: the Politics of Baroque Opera and the French Historical Narrative,” emerged out of the love for Baroque music and history that the music department instilled in me and encouraged me to develop.  A typical day sees me teaching music theory to undergraduates, leafing through 17th-century scores in research archives, or interviewing leading performers of Baroque music.  These activities all build on the resources that Wellesley gave me, for it was my private lessons that taught me the tricks of reading old musical notation, chamber music making that introduced me to leading professional musicians, and the coursework that taught me how to analyze and write about music professionally.



Emily Weddle ‘14

My favorite thing about the Music Department was the faculty and my fellow students. Professors are always so helpful and welcoming, and I learned so much from them both during class and during office hours. I also got to know so many of my fellow classmates so well, and learn so much from them during small class discussions and outside the classroom in the library, dining halls, and music groups.

Writing my thesis was one of the most rewarding things I ever produced at Wellesley. I got to work one-on-one with my adviser and learn so much from her, but I also worked with many other professors in the Music department and in other departments as well. It was a great experience that allowed me to pursue a topic that I was passionate about in such great detail, and gave me research opportunities that are usually awarded to graduate-level students, and uncommon for undergraduates to undertake.

I am currently the Development and Communications Associate for Cantata Singers, a professional chorus in Boston. My background in music has immensely helped me in my position. My musicology background taught me how to research and write both well and quickly, which are skills I use often in my job with email marketing, fundraising campaigns, social media posts, press releases, etc. It's also important to understand the music itself, which enables you to understand that each menial task that you do helps to put together that performance of Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil. Having sung it with the Wellesley College Choir myself makes it only easier to push through answering my emails in order to get people to come to concerts, hear our music, and create their own experiences.

When it comes down to it, I am passionate about music, especially choral music as a vocalist myself, and I really believe in Cantata Singers mission. Studying at Wellesley gave me a burning passion to contribute in my own way to the furthering of classical music in our society, and I feel extremely lucky to be able to work for an organization that allows me to pursue this dream.

My favorite thing about the Music Department was the faculty and my fellow students. Professors are always so helpful and welcoming, and I learned so much from them both during class and during office hours. I also got to know so many of my fellow classmates so well, and learn so much from them during small class discussions and outside the classroom in the library, dining halls, and music groups.

Writing my thesis was one of the most rewarding things I ever produced at Wellesley. I got to work one-on-one with my adviser and learn so much from her, but I also worked with many other professors in the Music department and in other departments as well. It was a great experience that allowed me to pursue a topic that I was passionate about in such great detail, and gave me research opportunities that are usually awarded to graduate-level students, and uncommon for undergraduates to undertake.