In the Spotlight
PASSIONATE. PERSONALIZED. GC MUSIC (Volume 1, Issue 1)
Congratulations to Katie Boss, a junior music major, who placed third in the tuba category (ages 18-24) at the Susan Slaughter Solo Competition, held by the International Women’s Brass Conference in June 2017 at Rowan University. Boss, a student of Bill Pritchard, was in a category that included undergraduate and graduate students from some of the top conservatories in the country. Katie performed the Lullaby movement from James Barnes’ Tuba Concerto and three movements from Persichetti’s Serenade No. 12. The competition itself was blind, meaning the judges could not see each performer, so evaluations were completely based on performance. Additionally, the evaluator panel had a minimum standard that performers must meet, otherwise no awards are given. Katie was accompanied by Carol Worthington Conger, piano, who is known for collaborating with tubas and other low brass instruments. For her performance, Boss received comments such as “warm tone,” “great phrasing” and “exciting energy.” Besides placing in the competition, Katie also spent time at the conference meeting professionals and IWBC board members, including GC’s own Dr. Maureen Horgan who has served on the board for over 15 years. When asked about the experience, Boss stated, “I was very happy with my results, as it was my first solo competition ever.” Georgia College was also represented at the conference by Horgan and Pritchard who served as judges for the euphonium division of the Susan Slaughter Solo Competition. The Department of Music is incredibly proud of our trio of outstanding brass musicians.
The Georgia College Department of Music would like to welcome its newest full-time faculty member, Dr. Youngmi Kim. Kim originally hails from South Korea, but completed both graduate degrees at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). This makes her the third current faculty member with ties to CCM (Dr. Flory, choirs, and Dr. Towner, bands, also have degrees from there). We recently sat down with Dr. Kim and talked about her first impressions of Georgia College and the inspirations behind her recent debut recital earlier this month. Her outstanding collaborator, Dr. Owen Lovell, piano, will be our featured faculty member next issue.
GCMusic: What attracted you to the position at Georgia College?
Dr. Kim: I loved to see that students are serious about what they are doing. Students communicate well and respond well here. I also liked working with young colleagues, and I am very excited to be working closely with the colleagues here. I was impressed by the leadership at Georgia College, and their dedication to the music program and to make it even better.
GCMusic: What has surprised you thus far in your tenure here, either professionally or personally?
Dr. Kim: How supportive everybody was and how willing they are to help me out. There are so many good student singers here in the music department, even though people assume most of them are in the northeast.
GCMusic: How did you put your program together for your debut recital?
Dr. Kim: I organized my first recital at Georgia College to include my favorite pieces to sing. It included music that spans the Classical and Romantic eras and the twentieth century. I wanted to sing in Latin, German, Spanish and French. I started with Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate, which ends with the famous “Alleluja.” I then followed by singing four Strauss songs which show a different mood in each piece — lover’s serenade in the first song, Ständchen, Viennese waltzes in Ich Schwebe and Schlechtes Wetter, and an exquisite, intimate love song in Morgen. The second half of the program included showier pieces technically for both a singer and pianist. In Turina’s song cycle, the whole movement of the first piece consists of a piano solo. Bizet is famous for his opera Carmen, and he also composed beautiful songs which are sensitive in style and require as much energy to sing as opera does.
GCMusic: Is there a special story or personal note behind any of the music you programmed?
Dr. Kim: I have an unforgettable story in the first set of my recital. I was struggling with a vocal disorder throughout 2007 and 2008. I thought I would not able to sing again. It was a miracle that I was able to sing again without having any surgery. In 2010, I won the first prize at the William C. Byrd Young Artist Competition, where I sang Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate. This piece gave me hope to sing again.
GCMusic: What are your goals for the voice area in the coming year?
Dr. Kim: With our wonderful voice faculty members at Georgia College, I’d like to implement some new strategies to make the students improve more efficiently. I’d like to make our students even better than they are and help them with professionalism. I also want them to experience the joy of singing in the course of our voice program.
Thank you Dr. Kim for taking the time to sit down with us. Dr. Kim gave an inspiring recital this month. Her beautiful voice brought the emotions and styles of the music to a full house in Max Noah Recital Hall. Georgia College is fortunate to have such an outstanding and talented musician joining our faculty.
Kelly (Hoffman) and Matt Pugh attended Georgia College for a combined eight years between 2009 and 2015, and the two were married last month. Though they both studied music education at GC (Kelly graduating in 2013), they have chosen to take the road less traveled and put their education to use outside of the mainstream path of being a K-12 music teacher. Instead, the two began to realize their dream of working together by starting Half Step Studio, Inc., a business focused on teaching music to pre-school children. We caught up with them right after they returned from their honeymoon.
GCMusic: How did you name your business?
Pughs: When we first started conceptualizing our business, our end goal was to have a storefront business that had students of all ages come to our studio for a range of musical activities. Our main focus, though, is with young children, so immediately the words "small" and "little" came to mind. We wanted to have some sort of musical influence in our name so after a long naming process, we decided on Half Step Studio, Inc.
GCMusic: What is the mission of your business?
Pughs: Our main goal with our business is to educate as many children as we can. Beyond that though, we are extremely focused on creating the best curriculum. We take pride in our approach to teaching pre-elementary students. We are heavily influenced by John Feierabend's pedagogy along with the standard elementary performance standards. On top of that, each school has curriculum they would like us to incorporate into our music classes, so we get to create our own songs to reinforce their specific subjects (animal sounds, color identification, body part identification, etc.).
GCMusic: Can you briefly describe Feierabend’s pedagogy and explain what drew you to that philosophy?
Pughs: What drew us to the Feierabend pedagogy is that its three main focuses are pulse, pitch and artistry. To us, those three concepts are also the most important for us to teach and develop within our students. We want a child that has been in our classes from 8 months old to 5 years old to go to kindergarten and be able to match pitch and dance in time to a song. On top of that, whatever our students' main interests may be, we want our students to grow up with a sense of recognition of the power that music (and other arts) has on a life. While that is certainly impossible to teach, we hope to create experiences in our classes that have a lasting effect on their life. These experiences are hard to identify and are different for each student, but we believe Feierabend's pedagogy allows for these experiences to come alive in the classroom more naturally. Whether it's the pure enjoyment of singing and moving to one of his echoes that inspires a child, or the creativity that goes into making an original song, we want our students to at the very least, find their own value in art. On top of that, we completely agree with Feierabend's philosophy on the parallels of learning language and learning music. Kelly was inspired from Leonard Bernstein's lectures in the Young People's Concert Series on the relationship and inflection music has in each language and Feierabend's pedagogy matches this exact thought process. We're singing songs that move in the direction that match how we would simply speak with those words. We sing songs with simple diction and sing them with well defined meters. For reasons like these, we absolutely believe Feierabend's pedagogy is a great core for Half Step Studio Inc.'s curriculum.
GCMusic: How did your venture come to fruition? What is its history?
Kelly Pugh: Out of college, after countless interviews, I did not get offered a music teaching job. I was pretty heartbroken, but I ended up teaching Pre-K and working with a high school band in the afternoon. Every day at my Pre-K job, we had a creative arts teacher come in. When the music teacher came each week, I was appalled at the lack of learning and passion that came with him. My students couldn't sit for more than 10 minutes because they were forced to play hot potato and sing yet another Pete the Cat song. They were never challenged within the class nor were they ever gaining an interest in music. The next year, I was offered the music teaching job within a private school (which had four locations). I spent a year teaching music for the first half of my day, then doing extremely menial tasks (putting together new furniture, fixing their internet connectivity issues, giving teachers lunch breaks, etc.) for the latter half. Finally, with the influence of one of the school's principals, my dad, and Matt, I decided to create my own brand. Starting September of 2016, Matt and I entered the schools as our own entity. We were in complete control of our curriculum and also our time. Because creative arts' times are typically 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., we are able to offer an ancillary music program in the afternoon, which is a more private setting for students and is another source of income. Although Matt and I spend a lot of time on the administrative side of our business, we are much happier putting the majority of our focus into teaching music. On top of that, being able to collaborate together is a dream come true for us. We had countless talks throughout college about the realistic probability of the both of us landing teaching jobs in the same area, so we certainly don't take our jobs now for granted.
GCMusic: How did your Georgia College education prepare you for this project?
Kelly Pugh: Matt and I both had professors that were always pushing us to be a better version of ourselves. Dr. Ryan Smith (percussion), Dr. Richard Greene (music history) and Dr. Cliff Towner (bands) are three professors we both admire and are extremely grateful for. Although some of the coursework we did in these classes don't benefit us directly today, the way they were taught shaped us as the teachers we are today. These professors, and many others at GC, don't accept laziness, they don't accept thoughtless work, and they never stop believing in their students. Matt and I never envisioned owning a company to be our way of teaching music, but I think the way we were challenged at Georgia College developed our minds to think in a new way.
GCMusic: What are the goals you both have for this business?
Pughs: On the business side of things, our goal is to continue expanding to more and more schools. We started with getting the contracts of six schools, and we're currently at 8 and close to adding a 9th. We are also extremely close to adding our first employee which has been a huge goal for us even though it's a pretty minor event overall. On the teaching side, our main goal is to create a completely unique curriculum. We'd love to create our own method book/guide for teaching pre-elementary music, and there's not a lot of material out there currently that helps music teachers in this area. Like I said earlier, Feierabend's resources were a huge help to how we shaped our teaching, but we believe there's more to this range of age that we'd like to eventually share.
Thank you to the Pughs for sharing their story with us. If you would like to learn more about Matt and Kelly’s business please check out their new website at: www.halfstepstudioinc.com If anyone is interested in joining the team in the Alpharetta/Cumming area or learning more about their company please reach out to them at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org . We here at the Georgia College Music Department wish Kelly and Matt well in their endeavor. If you have any interesting alumni story that you would like to share, please contact Dr. Cliff Towner, Interim Co-Chair of the department of music at Georgia College (email@example.com).
The percussion family has the unique distinction of being simultaneously the oldest and newest family of instruments. From hitting rocks together to signal in prehistoric times to electric drum sets and rhythm sampling, the percussion section is always evolving. This is also true of the percussion ensemble here at Georgia College for whom the past six months has seen a vast amount change.
The first big change came with a journey to Dayton, Ohio where the percussion ensemble acquired a five-octave Marimba One (widely regarded as one of the best products on the market). The percussion studio had been working hard all academic year, last year, to raise money to purchase this gorgeous instrument. They taped faculty members to a box, helped serve fast food and solicited donations from everyone they knew. With all their effort and with support from the Department of Music, the marimba was purchased in June and now proudly resides in the percussion studio. This new acquisition is going to provide Georgia College students with access to modern day repertoire. The development and popularization of the five-octave marimba in the 1980s introduced percussionists to the solo stage, giving them the same dignified status as any other instrumental soloist. Much of the professional repertoire after these years is specifically written for the extended range. This truism has bled into ensemble repertoire from the same period onward. Georgia College’s acquisition of such an instrument allows our students to participate in the cutting edge of percussion repertoire in both a solo and ensemble setting.
The second change came in August, when Georgia College was fortunate to hire Dr. Nathaniel Gworek as our new applied percussion instructor and director of the percussion ensemble. Dr. Gworek has an extremely diverse background in percussion that started at SUNY Geneseo in New York, where his studies were very much focused on classical repertoire. During his collegiate career, he became very involved in multiple ensembles, musical and opera pits, and jazz drumming, was actively playing shows, and toured with his rock band for a summer. This experience allowed him insight into many of the conventional opportunities for learning and playing percussion. His master’s degree had him continuing these genres, but also involved traditional Latin music, Latin jazz, African drumming, and Latin American marimba music. These activities continued to develop his knowledge of percussion performance on a worldwide scale. His doctoral work, while primarily focused on education, gave him even more diversity, working with steel bands, playing in a Latin jazz combo, playing in multiple operas, and even playing in a Renaissance music ensemble. Through all these opportunities, he has maintained a large interest in contemporary music and has commissioned and co-commissioned more than ten pieces and has done the world premiere of many of them.
With these two additions to the program, the percussion ensemble is off to a great start this academic year. This fall’s ensemble contains 10 students performing in a variety of quartets, quintets and more on a vast array of instruments, including that beautiful five-octave marimba. One of Dr. Gworek’s goals is to expose the students to as much repertoire as possible from as many genres as possible. He feels passionately that as performers, they are the greatest vehicle for percussion education in the musical and non-musical community. The program for this semester includes a lot of contemporary music, but also Tchaikovsky transcriptions and some traditional Latin American marimba music. This semester’s concert will be in the Max Noah Recital Hall on November 2, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. We hope you can join us!
Trax on the Trail, a website devoted to the study of American presidential campaign music, launched at Georgia College in December of 2015. Spearheaded by Georgia College musicologist Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, the website’s forty-member interdisciplinary team includes students as well as academic experts from the fields of political science, musicology, sociology, history, communications, media studies, and ethnomusicology, across the U.S. and Canada. Trax on the Trail has published thirty essays that address multiple facets of the 2016 campaign soundscape. With public education and outreach as its goal, Trax collaborated with WRGC 88.3 radio to create a podcast series, and with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland to produce a course unit on intersections between rock music and presidential politics. Undergraduate students played an integral role in the design, development, and maintenance of the website’s campaign music research database, a resource that is now widely utilized by journalists, students, scholars, and educators. Trax on the Trail has been cited by various media outlets, including the BBC, The Guardian, Slate, Boston Herald, Elite Daily, and Variety. The Trax team has presented lectures, workshops, and concerts at conferences and in classrooms and community spaces across the country. A pioneering contribution to public scholarship and the field of musicology, Trax’s work on the 2016 election will appear in forthcoming issues of American Music and the Journal of Popular Music Studies. Over the past two years, Trax on the Trail has grown to become a project of national significance.
A Spotlight on GC Music History
Annual Holiday Concert
Friday, Dec. 1st, 7:30pm
231 West Hancock Street
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PASSIONATE. PERSONALIZED. GC MUSIC.
In the Georgia College Department of Music, we don’t just teach students how to weave their talents into creative careers. We show them how to live their passions. If you would like to help in this endeavor, please join the Friends of Music. This fund provides our students financial support and allows the department to pursue its goals.
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Milledgeville, GA 31061
Or please contact one of the music department co-chairs, Dr. Jennifer Flory or Dr. Cliff Towner, at 478-445-8289 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.