April 5, 2005
Barbara Jazwinski, Professor and Chair of the Department of Music: Music has always been a fascinating and complex discipline with roots in both the arts and the sciences. Along with arithmetic, geometry and astronomy, music was among the four subjects of the medieval quadrivium, which comprised the core curriculum of the liberal arts.
Music, however, is much more than an extremely challenging intellectual pursuit. It also appeals to people on a purely emotional level. The impact of a musical masterpiece -- the sheer beauty of a Mozart concerto for some, the emotional depth of an American blues for others -- defies characterization. Music plays a truly intriguing role as a discipline that combines rigorous intellectual skills with the ability to touch us all in an extraordinarily subjective manner.
Tulane University students interested in pursuing a degree in music face an astounding array of different options regarding their area of specialization. They can immerse themselves in the study of classical music, popular music or jazz. They can focus on the traditional fields such as performance, composition or music history, or on the many completely new interdisciplinary ventures.
Consider our new program, Music Science and Technology, offered in conjunction with the School of Engineering, the objectives of which include the development of innovative approaches to the scientific study of music media. Our commitment to this direction has already been recognized; in 2006, we host the International Computer Music Conference.
In view of the complexity of our discipline and the number of creative options available to our graduates, the Tulane Department of Music fulfills a very intricate role. We prepare our students to successfully function in the musical environment of their choice and provide them with the tools to fulfill their creative potential.
Our courses range from those that focus on the development of performance and traditional compositional skills to those that emphasize electronic media, digital signal processing, electric instrument design or music business. We also devote a great deal of attention to our excellent vocal and instrumental ensembles. I am delighted that so many of our students establish successful careers in all areas of music.
Our graduates win national and international competitions; they are recipients of prestigious grants and fellowships; they perform; they write music for film, radio, theater and TV; they work in the recording industry, in music business and in commercial music; they do research and teach. I also am thrilled that music frequently becomes a vital force in the lives of those students who ultimately go into other professions. Our alumni includes physicians, scientists, businessmen and lawyers who continue to play and arrange music and to actively support the arts.
It is gratifying that so many of our students appreciate the power of music to entertain and to enrich our emotional lives. It is equally rewarding to see that many also recognize the enormous potential of music to contribute to science. This splendid dichotomy is the essence of music, reflecting its infinite power to both touch us all in purely emotional terms and to unlock the doors to the future.
Barbara Hayley, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance: My first faculty meeting took place in August 1985 -- inside the Newcomb Gym with my two dance colleagues, a number of physical education teachers and Elizabeth (Lib) Delery, chair of Newcomb Physical Education.
Tulane's dance program was about to lift off and Lib's charge to us was simple: "Teach our students to the best of your ability." This statement had impact; I remembered those words through my first year, and I still hear them. Our students hold the key, not unlike a good piece of choreography and the driving premise behind it. Have the students changed? Have I changed? Has Tulane changed? Yes, yes and yes.
The students are more world-wise than 20 years ago when I started. I am honored to be part of their process. I recall a new student with whom I met last fall. As we talked I saw the glimmer of expectation in her eyes, as well as the flicker of trepidation. As it is with each new student, I too look forward to the challenges ahead and the thrill of that first class when we enter into four years of intense training together. The experience is a first for them and always seems like a first for me, as well.
Teaching for me is ever changing, and I welcome that. The Newcomb dance program is now rightly placed within the Department of Theatre and Dance. As part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, we have the opportunity to offer our students a broad approach to dance. There are some constants that have remained -- some of the same questions that I asked myself early on and that I ask myself today. Am I giving students what they need to know to work in the dance profession? Am I giving them tools that transfer to other aspects of life?
In the words of the famous modern dance pioneer, Alwin Nikolais, "The artist expresses the impress of his or her universe." Do I help them see and reflect their universe? They are impatient. I am impatient. They are important. For me, the rewards have been great and satisfying. The students have allowed me to hone my craft not only as a teacher, but also as a scholar and choreographer. They have broadened my perspectives. I learn from them. They are good young collaborators. Their ideas are enlightening, despite their brief life experience.
As I approach the completion of 20 years of teaching at Tulane, I observe that many of our former students are successful in dance and working throughout the United States and abroad. It is rewarding to know their stories extend beyond this department and their Tulane lives. Over the years, our options as teachers and researchers at Tulane have multiplied. Our curriculum has evolved to encompass combinations with many other disciplines.
I am secure in the knowledge that the faculty is a collection of committed fellows, not only in our department but in all departments. I believe that through their tireless efforts, our leaders strive daily to enhance our efforts. Because of Tulane and our students, I have the job of my dreams. I teach dance and I teach more than dance.
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