Center for Deep Listening – Connecting my internship to academics – Sarah Clewett

It’s the end of July now and I am wrapping up my internship with the Center for Deep Listening at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY. I have learned so much throughout my time here – I have become more familiar with Deep Listening philosophy and techniques by participating in an Introduction to Deep Listening class, archiving many boxes of the Center’s historical artifacts, and helping the Center’s director, Tomie Hahn, to brainstorm ideas for an upcoming project with the Lawrence University’s Conservatory in the fall. In addition, I further explored my interest in creative arts therapy by assisting in a therapeutic drum circle for children with disabilities at Abilities First in Poughkeepsie, NY. These experiences and the mentors I have worked with have truly helped me begin to understand what is important to me and have opened my mind to several new academic and career ideas to explore in the future.

I’d like to give just one example of how I have grown personally and professionally this summer, and it all started with the Introduction to Deep Listening class that I took with the RPI students. One of our class exercises required us to come up with our own Deep Listening scores and share them as a group. After I shared mine, a classmate asked me if I applied Deep Listening techniques to my instrument (I was the only music major in a group of STEM majors), to which I surprised myself by replying, “No.” After further reflection I realized that Deep Listening involves improvisation and my reluctance to use it was due to having limited experience in this area. I discussed this realization with Tomie Hahn, and she agreed we should learn to improvise together – first without any instruments and then, once I felt comfortable, with our instruments- she on shakuhachi (a Japanese flute) and me on oboe. Improving on my improvisational abilities was a major accomplishment for me, and by the end of our time together I am now comfortable trying out new and interesting techniques on the oboe while learning to express the sounds around me.

As a follow-up to this process, I am now applying my knowledge to other experiences. I was excited to participate in the therapeutic drumming circle as it would build on my previous experiences in creative arts therapy plus I wanted to understand how the class used Adaptive Use Musical Instruments (AUMI) technology, which is supported by the Center for Deep Listening. To enhance my experience I played along with the drumming by improvising on my oboe, following the dynamics and sounds of the drums around me – it was fun to see how the children listened and reacted to what I played! In addition, Tomie has invited me to join in on an outdoor performance at the Wave Farm in Acra, NY, on August 8th. The name of the piece is called “Lanalog,” and it is described as “a six-hour durational performance using wireless radio and TV transmitters to connect six performers located around the Wave Farm buildings and property.” To find out more about the performance you can read here: https://wavefarm.org/ta/calendar/tazfpw

I am really looking forward to this opportunity to explore my new interest in improvising during a public performance!

Overall I am taking away from this internship some valuable new skills and interests and also a better understanding of myself. I have experienced how Deep Listening can be a positive affect on my life style, and I have learned to take time out of each day to simply just sit and meditate by listening to everything around me. Looking at the school year ahead, I hope to do more with improvisation and experimental music by joining IGLU- the Improvisational Group at Lawrence University. I will also be keeping my eyes and ears open for other opportunities that I can take advantage of this year broaden my musical knowledge. I do not know how exactly all of these things will fit into my career plans, but I do know that they are guiding me to a more fulfilling life experience. I have met some amazing and influential people this summer, and I appreciate all that I’ve learned from them!

Weill Music Institute – Connecting my internship to academics – Becca Shuman

This internship has been really interesting for me precisely because it’s so different from what I normally do. As a music education major, I’ve spent the last four years of my life studying pedagogy, learning to play the different instruments, practicing conducting, and teaching in schools. And yet here at Carnegie Hall, my job is much more about office work, research, planning, and organizing. For instance, I’ve spent the past week researching the history of Carnegie’s Neighborhood Concerts for a press release about this program’s 40th anniversary. I’ve gone through old electronic files, sifted through online calendars, and dug through boxes of old contracts and programs, trying to gather as much information as possible about the total numbers of concerts, artists, and venues that have been part of Neighborhood Concerts over the years. I’ve also been doing tasks such as organizing the schedules of our artists, brainstorming programming and social media ideas, and compiling information about the staffing hours of my team. And while my music education courses never specifically taught me how to do these things, my time at Lawrence definitely prepared me for them anyway. I know how to spend hours researching a topic (music history papers, anyone?), and how to organize schedules – a skill necessary when you have hours of classes and ensembles and still need to find time to eat.
But I think the biggest connections I’ve found between this internship and my academic experience are the need to be self-reflective, and the overall mission of the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall. The people at WMI constantly evaluate their programs, ideas, efficiency, and goals. That’s one of the reasons that WMI’s programs have grown so much in the past few years – they’re always asking, “How can we do this better?” “How can we better meet the needs of this population?” “Is this goal still relevant, or do we need to adjust it to better serve our audiences?” These are exactly the types of questions that my time at Lawrence taught me to ask of myself and my teaching.
And of course, WMI’s mission is something that resonates very deeply with me as a music educator: they want to bring high-quality, diverse music to as many people as possible. While I’ve spent the past four years learning how to do that in a classroom, this internship is showing me another, equally effective way to go about it. My time at WMI has shown me so many other possibilities for sharing music: songwriting projects for the incarcerated and the homeless; free afterschool arts programs for youth; side-by-side performances with professional orchestras; free, interactive concerts for families. What drives the people behind these programs is a belief that I’ve held for a long time: that music is a birthright – everyone has the right to hear and make music that they love. So even though I’ve been doing very different tasks at this internship than I’m used to, I know that they’re all in service of a goal that I firmly believe in.

Facebook – Connecting my internship to academics – Eddie Elizondo

“How does this experience connect with your academic experience?” This is a very interesting question because, unlike most tech schools, at Lawrence we barely get any exposure to real software engineering. And that’s how the Lawrence CS program is meant to be. At Lawrence we learn the fundamentals and theory so well that we can easily pick up any applied stuff.

It’s kind of funny because my team is the farthest away from the website, we never touch any of the visual components of the website. Because of that, everything we do is very Math oriented. Everything we do has to be optimized to it’s maximum, to the point that every millisecond you can save will make a big impact.

I feel that everything that I’ve learned at Lawrence has helped me accomplish everything that I’ve done here. My Math background had helped me in always taking a step back and ask myself, is this the most optimal solution? Always going back and forth between my pen and paper, where I make calculations, and my computer, where I implement them. Because of that, I’ve never gotten any of my code rejected due to poor implementation.

Another important thing that I’ve learnt at Lawrence is to break down big ideas into small implementable components. This was very important in my project since my manager just assigned me the general idea of what she wanted me to get done. It was up to me to identify the components, how everything will be connected, and the order of how it was going to be implemented. By actually planning and breaking down the components I was able to very efficiently go through everything that I had to do.

I really appreciate how Lawrence has focusing on creating very good foundations. I was able to pick up and develop world class software almost immediately.

Center for Deep Listening – My first month – Sarah Clewett

After having been at the Center for Deep Listening in Troy, NY, for about a month now, I can say that this summer has been such a great learning experience for me. My main internship project has been to archive the many boxes of artifacts and media that have been sent from the center’s old location in Kingston, NY, to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I am just wrapping up the first step in the archival process, which is to record each box and the contents inside it, take a picture of the contents, label the box, and repeat. Although this all may sound a bit tedious, I am having fun discovering what each box contains while also learning a little bit more about the history of the Center for Deep Listening. During my break times I keep up with my music by practicing in an old auditorium that no one seems to use; it has pretty good acoustics and it’s nice to be practicing on a stage!

In addition to my archival duties I am working on some Deep Listening projects in preparation for a week long workshop Tomie will be conducting at the Lawrence University’s Conservatory this fall! I’m very excited for Tomie’s visit to Lawrence, and I am looking forward to sharing the Deep Listening techniques with my fellow conservatory colleagues. I won’t get into the specifics of what we are preparing – you will have to attend the workshop to find out!

RPI is a very interesting campus; it is a well-respected STEM university that happens to have this fantastic performing arts venue called the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, or EMPAC. For one of my assignments I was asked to observe and even participate in a doctoral student’s architectural research study at EMPAC, and as a result I was able to take a tour of this very famous building. EMPAC is a large glass building built into a hill, and its main concert hall is this large wooden, somewhat egg-shaped structure that is frequently described as looking like “a ship in a bottle.” I learned that one of the reasons for the concert hall’s state-of-the-art acoustics is due to it being completely detached from the rest of the building to prevent any noisy vibrations. EMPAC also contains two black boxes and a very high-tech theatre. I am impressed with all of the research and activity going on at EMPAC. Here is a link for information on EMPAC’s design: http://empac.rpi.edu/building

In addition to my internship I have made it my personal goal to experience all of what New York has to offer. I enjoy traveling around Troy and the Hudson River Valley as it is so beautiful to explore the hills and forests. I also had the opportunity to travel to NYC twice now. The first time was with a Lawrence friend to attend a free outdoor concert by the New York Philharmonic. The second time was visiting the famous Times Square where I saw the Tony award-winning musical “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel! I was so psyched to see this musical as we read her book during my Freshman Studies class and she even came to visit Lawrence and give a lecture on it in 2013. The musical was phenomenal and very emotional; you could tell how much it affected the audience as we left the theatre. I also was able to experience a wonderful concert by jazz guitarist Russell Malone and his quartet at the Village Vanguard, a legendary jazz club. Lastly, I have plans to see an all-Balanchine performance by the New York City Ballet at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, which is located near Troy.
My time in Troy has been busy but fulfilling as I continue to learn more about Deep Listening and find the different ways it can apply to my daily life. It has helped me to expand my definition of music and has inspired the many different ways I can improvise on my instrument. I look forward to what the remaining weeks here will have in store for me!

Facebook – My first month – Eddie Elizondo

So I’ve been 4 weeks into my internship. I’ve delivered more than a thousand lines of code and the initial stress is starting to kick in. The system is so big, complex and intricate that it gets a bit overwhelming. Furthermore, we are the first company to have such a system. No other company in the world has the kinds of storage needs that Facebook has; we are pioneering in the area. Therefore, we can’t search on the internet about how things work. However, the philosophy here is to move fast and break things. I’ve been definitely moving fast, understanding the different components and at the same time, delivering efficient code. Also, when I said breaking things, I really meant it. They live by the philosophy that interns are normal employees – even we can break things. If you have not broken something then you are not trying hard enough (of course, you are meant to immediately fix your error).

Also, unlike most companies, we are expected to act very independently and be self sufficient. So, I’ve started to guide my project instead of waiting for my manager to do it. In fact, I had to design a new service from the ground up. I had to make the sketches of how every component will work and how it was going to be connected to the overall system. Then I had to present that in front of most of the engineers on my team. This was a very interesting experience because they really drill down, asking questions about every single tiny detail. Thankfully, I was able to respond to everything and at the same time, I used their suggestions to make my project better.

Besides that, I love the team that I’m working on. Everyone is very nice and my manager is one of the best! She’s always pushing me to perform to my maximum and I really appreciate that.

Weill Music Institute – My first month – Becca Shuman

​The past month here at WMI has been a wonderful, fast-paced (and at times overwhelming) whirlwind. Between feeling more comfortable in this huge city and settling into the rhythm of this organization, I feel like I’m starting to find my place. I’ve been doing all sorts of things here with my department, which has given me a better sense of exactly what they do on a day-to-day basis. I’ve been doing the stereotypical intern tasks like picking up dry cleaning and mailing packages, but they’ve also given me a lot of other responsibilities. The other day, I created a PowerPoint for my boss to present to our marketing team (and then sat nervously through the meeting hoping nothing went wrong with it). I’ve been brainstorming social media ideas for our team to pitch to the Social Media team, in the hopes that next year, the Family and Community Programs will have a stronger presence on Carnegie Hall’s social media platforms. I’ve researched and compiled information about potential artists for our team to contract as Family Concert performers, and immersed myself in current research about the use of media in children’s education. Most recently, I’ve been collecting information from each team within WMI about the need for part-time program assistants, as well as compiling detailed information about the staffing hours of my own team (in a beautiful, color-coded spreadsheet that could very well be the most satisfying document I’ve ever created).
And while that sounds like a lot (and it definitely feels like it sometimes), the people here at WMI have been completely supportive, and they’re constantly working to make sure I get everything I want out of this internship. The other interns and I have regular meetings with each program director, where they tell us about their backgrounds and what their teams do from day to day. We also have intern sessions where we get coffee and talk about our own backgrounds and future plans, and that’s created a nice support system for all of us.
I’ll admit that living alone in New York City can be pretty challenging, particularly for an extrovert like me. I’ve gone from spending four years surrounded by my best friends at Lawrence to spending most of my time by myself. Of all the transitions I’ve made this summer (small city to big city, driving to subway, cafeteria food to cooking), this one has definitely been the hardest. But again, the people here at WMI have done an amazing job of making me feel welcome and included. The other interns and I try to get lunch together when we can, and my team even invited me to “Guac Wednesdays,” which are just as fun as they sound. Even though the transitions I’m making this summer have challenged me a lot so far, I can already tell how much I’ve grown because of them. And I know that in the rest of my time here, I’m only going to continue to grow as I settle into this city. (Although I don’t want to get too comfy here – if I come home a Yankees fan, I’m pretty sure my dad will disown me.)