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.)

Facebook – First impressions of my internship – Eddie Elizondo

My first impression at Facebook was just shock. The first day, we are flown to the heart of silicon valley, in Menlo Park, CA. Arriving there the first thing you see is the 1 Hacker Way (Facebook’s Address) and this gigantic campus. Once you get the security clearance, you finally enter the campus and the first thing you see is this gigantic screen of the world with the amount of people using Facebook from every country. Of course there was also the famous Facebook Wall which is a white wall where you get to write anything you want.

Besides that, the other shock was the people. Every single person that I talked to, came from very prestigious engineering schools. Every Ivy, Stanford-MIT-CMU, Harvey Mudd & Caltech, etc. I felt a bit out of place coming from a liberal arts background.

My first two days were just conversations about what to do, what not to do, and how to be successful at Facebook. After getting our equipment and gifts, I was flown back to Seattle. Wednesday was actually my first day of work. I got to the office, had breakfast and my managers came and picked me up. Then, I got my first lesson of the day, how to make a proper latte. From there on, the real fun started. I got an explanation of the general idea of my project and the milestones I had to hit.

I was assigned to the cold storage team, which is the backup of all the data at Facebook. My code will be responsible for maintaining and keeping safe the data from more than 1.4 billion people. That’s when it hit me the big impact that we have, even as interns.

The best part about everything is that we are not treated as interns. From the first day, we are told that we are normal employees and we are expected to perform as such. Our projects matter and our projects will be actually used throughout Facebook.

Weill Music Institute – Internship first impressions – Becca Shuman

​I’ve only been working at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) for about a week now, but I can already say that it is one of the most fun, fulfilling, and meaningful jobs I’ve ever had. WMI is the education and community outreach department of Carnegie Hall, and they do simply amazing things. This department – which only consists of about 25 people – organizes hundreds of free concerts, workshops, events, and professional development sessions in all of the five boroughs of New York City. Their mission is essentially to bring high-quality, diverse musical experiences to as many people as they possibly can – particularly to those who wouldn’t normally have access to these experiences. As a music education major, this mission resonates very deeply with me, and I’m so honored and excited that I get to be part of an organization that works so hard to achieve it.
​My first day on the job was fairly overwhelming. Between figuring out the subway (no small feat for this suburban Minnesota girl), meeting new people, and learning about the dozens of projects that WMI does, there was a lot of information to take in. What surprised me the most, however, was how kind and welcoming everyone was. Naively, I had that “all New Yorkers are mean and rude” stereotype in my head, but everyone I met on my first day was the exact opposite. They welcomed me to their department, answered my questions, and seemed genuinely interested in the things I had to say. Everyone kept asking me “What do you want to get out of this experience? How can we make this a meaningful experience for you?” Considering that my last summer job was painting dorm rooms for eight hours a day, I was actually taken aback by this. I assumed I was there to do whatever they needed me to do – I figured I was there for them, but I didn’t realize that they were there for me, too.
​Perhaps my favorite part of my first day was talking with my supervisor about the specific projects that the Family Programs team does. While the team does more projects than I can describe in one blog post, I can’t resist talking about my favorite one: The Lullaby Project. In this project, the Family Programs team works with new or expectant mothers (and occasionally fathers) who have found themselves in difficult situations – they might be homeless, on probation, teen mothers, etc. These mothers work with professional, specifically trained teaching artists to write, produce, and record an original lullaby for their babies. The mothers help come up with melodies, lyrics, style, mood, and so on – even if they have no formal musical training. At the end of the project, they get a CD of their lullaby (performed either by them or by professionals, depending on what they decide), and they’re encouraged to sing these songs to their babies as much as they can. And these lullabies are beautiful. There are fast songs, slow songs, salsa songs, Irish songs, rap songs – the list goes on and on. This is all in the pursuit of fostering closer connections between mother and child, which has been shown to improve the health of both. The team also hopes that this project will get these mothers to talk more with their children – something that has been proven to help children succeed in school. This project is essentially everything that I love about music: bringing high-quality music to everyone no matter their background; legitimizing and valuing the music of various cultures; using music to connect people; music improving children’s chances of success in school; and using music to show love. Some of these lullabies can be found on Carnegie Hall’s SoundCloud (https://soundcloud.com/carnegiehalllullaby), and I highly recommend listening to them.
By the end of my first day, I had set up my desk, gotten a list of projects to do, and figured out where the bathrooms were (arguably the most important thing I did that day). It was a long day, but I left feeling even more excited to come back. This is the work I want to do – it’s the work that excites me and invigorates me and makes me feel like I have a purpose. My background in music education and this internship share a common goal: to allow everyone to fulfill the birthright that is music. The more I think about my summer here, the more excited I get. I can’t wait to see where it takes me next!

First impressions of my internship – Sarah Clewet

The Center for Deep Listening Internship has already been a wonderful experience! My first shock was the terrain as I am an “Illinois flatlander” and the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute sits on top of this giant hill that overlooks the city of Troy, NY. I arrived a day before my internship started, so I was able to explore Troy (a quaint, formerly prosperous industrial town on the Hudson River) and RPI (a medium-sized technical university) as well as get acquainted with my roommate, who is a student at Russell Sage College (an all girls college located in the city of Troy). I must admit it’s hard to move somewhere completely new with no prior friends or acquaintances, but I quickly had the opportunity to reach out through my roommate and the friends I am making at RPI. On my off time I am exploring New York state and making connections with Lawrence friends that live here. I am also keeping up with my music studies by working with professional instructors in the area.
The start of my internship was slower than I expected, but I am glad for the slow pace now as it gave me time to settle in and meet new people. I started off my internship by sitting in on an “Introduction to Deep Listening” class that is an elective offered to the students at RPI. The class finishes up July 2nd, and it has been such a wonderful experience as I am furthering my knowledge of Deep Listening techniques as well as creating friends in the process. This summer the Center for Deep Listening has been in transition as it is relocating from Kingston, NY, to the RPI campus. My main project, archiving files and artifacts from the move, is currently on hold as a plan is being formulated. In the meantime, I have been working on some small Excel projects for the director of the Center for Deep Listening, Tomie Hahn. Tomie is a fascinating person and I really look forward to working with her throughout the summer. She is so energetic and has such an interesting background (much of it in ethnomusicology). I am also hoping to work with the AUMI technology or the Adaptive Use Musical Instruments that enables anyone, and specifically those with profound physical disabilities, to be able to create and explore their own music and sound through movement and gestures (deeplistening.org). To be honest I wasn’t nervous to start my internship, but more curious about what type of adventures and creative projects it would bring. I really picture Deep Listening as a way of life and I have been very fortunate to be able to be immersed in this type of thinking, meditating and lifestyle for a summer and really find out more about myself and this self reflective process.