The Many Tracks of Music

By Vritti Goel '12, Editor-in-Chief The Scripps music major aims to differentiate itself from others, especially for students’ capstone projects. While the three concentrations available to a music major—ethnomusicology, performance and history/theory/composition—are similar with their requirements, each concentration prepares students for a different type of a thesis.

“A performance concentration in the music major is actually quite rare among liberal arts colleges,” Professor YouYoung Kang said. “The fundamental [characteristic] is in the nature of the senior proj- ect.” She explained that music majors in the performance concentration give a senior recital (with 4-5 page program notes) rather than write a lengthy (50-page) thesis.

However, music major Felicia Palmer (’12) said that performance majors still have a lot of writing to do. “During Senior seminar in the fall, we’re researching our recital themes and songs, and we’re interpreting the music. We create a long version of program notes, which then gets cut down to a more standard length of 4-5 pages for audiences to read during the recital,” she said.

Karin Weston (’12), whose concentration is in performance, described the entire process of com- pleting the music major. “During the spring semester of your sophomore year, you ‘audition’ for the major by performing songs from a variety of styles and languages for the entire music department during a student recital. Junior year, you have a 30-minute solo recital, which finally leads up to the hour-long senior recital during the spring semester.”

Is it a lot of work?

Not necessarily, Palmer and Weston contend. Both are double majors—Palmer is also majoring in psychology, Weston in molecular biology—and while the workload is heavy, it has been manageable. Julia Petraglia (’12), a dual major in psychology and music with a concentration in history, theory and composition, agrees as well. “A lot of the courses are demanding, and the professors are, too, but the community is great within the department, which makes it easier to manage.” Petraglia’s thesis was a research project on the effect of music education on students’ academic self-efficacy, a topic she enjoyed researching. She completed most of her work during the senior seminar in the fall, and appreciated the opportunity to work with other music majors, saying, “Even if our actual thesis topics didn’t cross, we could all share ideas. All of our interests ended up overlapping a bit.”

It does seem like current senior music majors have overlapping themes, at least for those with the performance concentration. Palmer is singing about unsung heroines of myth, literature and history, with some pieces commissioned specifically for her. Weston is singing about powerful female figures, including works by female composers.

Both seniors chose to pursue the performance track because of their love of singing. “It’s definitely something I’d like to pursue as a career, so for me this is about learning to become more comfortable in front of a large audience and really expand on my vocal skills,” said Weston.

The music major may seem disjointed, with the various concentrations fo- cusing on entirely different aspects of the subject. However, this structure of the major is deliberate. Professor Charles Kamm, chair of the music depart- ment, described the music major best: “The Scripps music department works to provide as much a variety of opportunities as we can, given our faculty size. Scripps is a liberal arts college; thus, the focus of the music major is on the intellectual inquiry into music. But we also recognize that there may be students who will be suited to performance studies as a major—thus the performance tracks. Performance is viewed as an opportunity beyond the intellectual inquiry that is the core of the major.”