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!