My Eastman Novel – advice for freshmen from a graduating senior

The following guest post was written by graduating senior Nick German.  Thanks Nick – we’ll miss you!

My Eastman Novel
The life of a young musician is filled with many ups and downs. They are all part of the excitement, growth, and adventure that music brings us. When I graduated from high school, people often congratulated me with, “Best wishes on a new chapter in life!” At the time I could not have known that these next four years would be more than just a “chapter in life”- it 11154792_972103006134169_2693741524871073597_owould be a novel that would change my life forever. The writer Novalis once said, “Life must not be a novel that is given to us, but one that is made by us.” Upon graduation, every Eastman student has a novel; a unique story depicting our growth, adventure, and journey through Eastman. Every novel has a synopsis, right? Here is a synopsis of my Eastman novel.
I remember, very vividly, my first few weeks here. It was filled with endless discovery: making life-long friends from all over the world, seeing new places, and most importantly… making music! I am one of those people who have very good intuition about things. One of these things was the feel at Eastman. While I didn’t know exactly what the environment of Eastman would be, I could quickly tell that I would be a part of an extremely close family. People ask me all the time why I chose Eastman over other schools. For me, it was the warm sense of family, belonging, and the vastness of musical and personal discovery! From moving into my freshman dorm room, to waking across the stage of the Eastman Theater to receive my diploma, every day has been a humbling experience. I feel that many of us tend to take things for granted in life. I would like to encourage all of us to step back and really take the time to appreciate the good and bad in life- “Stop and smell the weeds”, my Pap once said!  Luckily for me, Eastman makes this easy. I think I can speak for my colleagues when I say I have no trouble at all being thankful for everything we have at Eastman.

Upon acceptance into Eastman, we are each placed into a studio. Like the larger community here, our studios are also like a very close family. I was most fortunate to be able to study piano under Professor Vincent Lenti. Words cannot describe the amount of wisdom and pedagogical excellence that comes from Mr. Lenti. I have grown so much as a pianist, but of equal importance, I have grown as a person. One of the many things he has said that I will never forget was, “with humility, accept the wrong note and move on!” This is applicable to many things in life. Things may not always go as we want, both in performances and life, however, we need to accept that it happened and move forward. I may sound a bit biased here, but just speak with any Eastman student (past or present) and you will hear very similar things about the relationships they’ve formed with their teachers! This is what makes my home special; we are not numbers or percentages. (I mention this because I get many questions about the “acceptance rate” on tours…keep in mind that you’re more than a percentage in our eyes. We are all musicians!)

Being a music education major, I am extremely blessed to be able to work with the faculty directly. After every class I have with one of the music ed professors, I find myself exhilarated and ready to change the world one young musician at a time! Yes, that may sound cheesy, but many novels have superheroes, right?!…To be in a program that makes you feel so incredibly valued is special. At Eastman, we are trained to become skilled and educated musicians. In addition to this, the music education department trains us to become inspiring, thoughtful, skilled, and loving music teachers- just as our professors are. Never in my life was I more inspired than when I was doing my student teaching. Every single day, I woke up at 5:30am to prepare for my drive to where I was teaching. I got back home and went straight to practicing and planning for the next day. This may sound like a grueling schedule, but don’t worry! Every day as I saw my students, I felt happy and recharged. We were ready to create some beautiful music and I was ready to learn from them. I have made so many amazing memories with each of my students. Thanks to them that my passion for music teaching has been augmented. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am right now in my teaching without the help of the music ed faculty, my cooperating teachers, and my wonderful students!  It has definitely been one of the highlights in my Eastman novel!

While I would love to keep telling you about the endless, picture-perfect moments of my time here, every novel has some struggle or conflict as well. In my novel, the struggle can be seen as many things. Every one of us will have our own unique challenges during our studies, but it is our job to accept the “wrong note”, and move on! I’ve gone through many things in these four years, from my appendix rupturing freshman year, to tackling seemingly impossible tasks both musically and personally. Sometimes, it may feel like there is no way you can get through the day. While I share everything with you in this brief post, I will share this: Eastman is a special place. We are ALL in the same boat. It may seem hard at times, but you must look to your friends and teachers for support! I wouldn’t have been able to get through without the support and prayers of each of my friends. We’re all in the same boat, and this boat is heading to an amazing future that each of us have worked so hard for! In The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein writes, “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.” If you want to find success and improvement, you will have to look and work hard for it…and it feels SO great when you do find it!

Before I finish my synopsis, I want to encourage all incoming and prospective Eastman students. The Eastman School of Music is such a unique and special place to me. You will create strong friendships, you will be pushed to be the best that you can be, you will discover you, you will be given a voice in the world of music, and most importantly, you will be given a home. You will always be a part of a very special family: the Eastman Family. To each incoming freshman I offer this advice: Never take your gift for granted. Work hard and strive to be the best you can be. Share your gift with others. There is an entire library filled with Eastman Novels written by past and present musicians. Make your “Eastman Novel” life-changing and inspiring! Best wishes to all of you on your new journey in life! Congratulations Class of 2019!

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Summer Plans & Internships

The following guest post was written by current Eastman student Mary Russek.  Thanks Mary!


Wow, another year at Eastman…check! In this post I’d like to share with you my summer plans. I’ll also let you in on a little secret that many students don’t know: summer is a fantastic time to be in Rochester! I am very excited to be staying in Rochester to work in the Eastman Office of Residential Life as the Summer Conference Manager and intern with the artistic director of Biodance, a local dance company that “explores social, political and environmental issues through its works always through dance, sometimes with text, film, music, and ice cream.”

As an Eastman student, I’m pursuing a double major in Violin performance and Music Education, working in the Eastman Admissions Office, and I am a Resident Advisor (RA) in the Student Living Center. When I originally began looking at colleges, I struggled to decide whether to major in music or business. Over my past three years here, I’ve found a way to mold both interests into my life at Eastman. Now that I will be a senior next fall and I’m beginning to look at graduate schools (a thought very far off for an incoming freshman!) I’ve learned about the arts administration major, which yields internships and jobs ideal to me.

Last Fall, I went to the Arts Leadership Program (ALP) office and talked about the opportunities I have here at Eastman to prepare myself for a degree in arts administration. The Arts Leadership Program provides Eastman students with classes, internships, and other opportunities (such as guest lectures) to help prepare ourselves to be successful artists after (and even before) we graduate from Eastman. This can be done as a Certificate Program, or through elective courses during the junior and senior year. In my original meeting in the ALP office, they suggested two things that I could do immediately: 1) contact Biodance to ask for an internship and 2) enroll in the ALP Grant Seeking course for the spring semester.

Since I’ve spent so much of my time in college focused on music, I’m excited that my internship with Biodance will offer the opportunity to be involved in another art form from a business perspective. Based on preliminary talks with my internship advisor, it sounds like I will be doing a little bit of everything from marketing to grant writing and even helping organize shows!

My job as Eastman’s Summer Conference Manager came about over the past year in my talks with Kellie Leigh, Assistant Dean of Residential Life and my boss as an RA. Last summer I stayed in Rochester to work as a Summer Session Assistant, which basically fulfilled the role of RA for the high school students who came to the Summer camps at Eastman. This Summer, my job will be geared more towards preparing and organizing for the Summer Camps. This will be a great opportunity because not only does it directly combine music and business in a real world application, but I will also be working along some of the people I respect most at Eastman whom I’ve gotten the privilege to learn from this past year as an RA.

Along with my summer job and internship to keep me busy, Rochester hosts many exciting summer events such as the lilac festival and jazz fest and other fun things-to-do like trips to the public market, activities at Bristol Mountain (skiing/snowboarding in Winter and a ropes course in the Summer), plenty of outdoor space at restaurants, Rochester RedWings Baseball minor league games, and, of course, going to Java’s!

Eastman students spend their summers doing a variety of different things from teaching private lessons in their hometown, to national and international music festivals or even just enjoying some down time with friends and family. Eastman offers us so many musical experiences and opportunities with the added benefit of being surrounded by our amazing musical peers and top notch professors. Summer is a chance to expand on those experiences and continue to grow as young musicians. To all of you still finishing up the school year, run through the finish line! And to the incoming Eastman class of 2019, I can’t wait to meet you this Fall!

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Things to do in and around downtown Rochester

Today’s post was written by Amy Skjerseth, a recent graduate of Eastman.  Her tips will help you get to know the city of Rochester, and give you the insider view on some fun things to look forward to.  Thanks Amy!


Things to do near the Eastman Campus

On the block surrounding Eastman, there is a wide array of restaurants to go to, with options ranging from fastPhoto by Matthew D. Wilson food to upscale. Just around the corner of the school is Moe’s Southwest Grill, a Mexican fast-food place, along with Golden Port Dim Sum, which offers all kinds of Asian cuisine. You can head down Gibbs Street to Tavern 58, a fancier spot that serves up American food. Java’s Café and Spot Coffee are great places to grab coffee with friends, study by yourself, or indulge in a delicious dessert after a concert. Just past Spot is Matthew’s East End Grill, and a few steps beyond Matthew’s is the Little Theatre, one of Rochester’s cultural gems. This independent movie theater has five screens, with an artsy, fun atmosphere and a cute cafe. It’s also a terrific value: $5 tickets for students or a student membership for $35 that covers admission to twelve films.

To get to more restaurants and shops, turn right at the corner of East Avenue and Alexander Street. From Alexander, you only have to walk a little ways until you are at the beginning of one of Rochester’s most trendy neighborhoods, Park Avenue. This meandering, tree-lined street is filled with cafés and restaurants, bakeries, specialty shops, hair salons, a CVS pharmacy, and more. It takes a little less than fifteen minutes’ walk to reach the beginning of Park Ave, but once you’re on it, each block has something to offer. It’s a pocket of Rochester that warrants many outings.

Another popular restaurant destination for Eastman students is Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, just a ten minute walk downtown. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed, and you probably won’t find better mac and cheese anywhere else. Another local barbecue favorite is Sticky Lips, which is a little farther away; it’s more accessible by car.

On Saturdays, many Eastman students make the short walk or take the free shuttle bus from Eastman to the Rochester Public Market. You can supplement your meal plan with fresh produce of every kind imaginable from the Public Market. It’s a larger farmer’s market with indoor and outdoor areas, plus several food carts where you can get breakfast sandwiches and empanadas. When you move into your first apartment, it is a great place to buy groceries, and it’s open on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday year-round.

Speaking of groceries, that reminds me—I can’t forget to mention one of the most talked-about Rochester staples, WegmansSushiWegmans! It’s a grocery store, but believe me, there is so much more to it than that. Rochesterians love Wegman’s, and once you walk into one, we think you’ll instantly understand why. It’s not just grocery shopping; it’s a highlight of the week. Hitch a ride to the Wegman’s down East Avenue (at 45 minutes, it’s just a little too far to walk) and you’ll become an instant fan.

There is also a Wegman’s (the flagship store, which is huge!) in Pittsford Plaza, which is accessible by shuttle from the University of Rochester on Saturdays. Also at Pittsford Plaza is Trader Joe’s, Chipotle, Barnes and Noble, TJ Maxx, Bed Bath & Beyond, Five Guys, and the Cheesecake Factory. You can also take a Saturday shuttle from the River Campus to Marketplace Mall, which is a large shopping area that includes Target, Walmart, and a movie theater.

Take the Shuttle to River Campus

The River Campus is home to the University of Rochester’s College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. There is a free shuttle bus between the Eastman Student Living Center and the U of R that runs quite frequently and only takes ten to fifteen minutes. The bus drops you off at Rush Rhees Library, an iconic building that houses several study spaces and, of course, extensive library collections where you can check out books with your Eastman ID. You can then go through the University’s tunnel system to get to Wilson Commons, the student center. Many Eastman students visit Starbucks there, but Panda Express, at the bottom level of Wilson Commons, is also popular. Your meal plan is valid at every dining center at the U of R, so there are lots of options!

You can also use the U of R gym free of charge, with just a swipe of your ID. If you are looking for alternate ways to exercise, many students will purchase YMCA memberships because the Y is on the corner of Gibbs Street between the Eastman Student Living Center and the school. The YMCA offers discounted memberships to students. Eastman students often play basketball and Frisbee in the courtyard in the middle of the Eastman Student Living Center, or they’ll head over to the River Campus to play soccer. Many students take advantage of the bike path that runs alongside the Genesee River to get in a run or take a leisurely stroll.2013_Rochester_Lilac_Festival_-_Flower_City_Lilac_-_02

There are many beautiful parks located near the University of Rochester. Highland Park (designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York City’s Central Park) is well worth a visit, especially when the lilacs are in bloom. Genesee Valley Park and Cobbs Hill Park are also within the city limits.


What’s Outside of Rochester? Rent a Zipcar or take a bus or train!

The best kind of car is a friend’s car, of course. But you can also take advantage of the Zipcar service, where you can rent a car from a parking lot near Eastman. The rates are very reasonable, but make sure to sign up for a car about four days in advance for prime availability. Visit for more information.

There are plenty of things to do outside of the immediate metropolitan area of Rochester. The parks mentioned above are just a few of the green spaces that upstate New York has to offer; if you drive north from the city for about twenty minutes, you’ll arrive at Lake Ontario. The Rochester lakeshore boasts several lakeside parks, as well as Seabreeze, an amusement park. The lake is a great place to hang out in the warmer months, but it is hauntingly beautiful in the winter — well worth a visit.

At only slightly above an hour away by car, Letchworth State Park rivals many national parks throughout the United Letchworth_State_Park_GorgeStates. In fact, it’s nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the East.” Plan a day trip to walk around its three large waterfalls and explore miles of hiking trails. Don’t forget to bring your camera; this is one of every Eastman student’s favorite daytrips.

Another daytrip that also includes waterfalls is a destination you’ve most likely heard of before: Niagara Falls. It’s only an hour and a half drive from Eastman—the perfect place to go with your family when they visit you.

If you want to visit New York City over fall or spring break, there are several transportation options available to you. Both the Amtrak and bus stations are very close to Eastman’s campus—only a ten minute walk. Many students take the Megabus or the train, and it only takes about six to seven hours to get to the City.

As you can see, there is much more to Rochester than just the block surrounding Eastman. Take advantage of what Rochester has to offer; get out and explore your new city!

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Looking back on my time at Eastman

The following guest post was written by Betsy Pilon, BM ’15.  Thanks Betsy!

Betsy Recital

Betsy Pilon performs an encore at her senior recital, with her father accompanying on piano.


With graduation in less than a month, and my move out date looming in the all-too-near future, I’m already beginning to miss my time at Eastman. I’m excited to move on and continue my education in vocal performance and opera; I’m excited to experience new places and work with new people, but I know that come September, a part of me will be wishing I were back in Rochester, NY.

After four years here, Eastman has become home for me. I could walk around the various ESM buildings blindfolded- with only minimal injury to myself or others. There are a lot of spots on the campus that I love, but I’ll particularly miss Sibley Music Library. Sibley is convenient, of course, as it is the largest music academic library on the continent and second largest in the world. No matter how obscure the work, I know that I’ll probably be able to find it somewhere in Sibley. And it’s easy to find hidden treasures. After practicing, I like to take a break and wander through the shelves of music, picking up interesting pieces that catch my eye. Then, with my stack of scores, I’ll sit quietly in one of the comfy chairs by the windows overlooking Gibbs Street. In the peace that only a library can provide, I’ll dig through new pieces, take a nap, or spy on people going in and out of Java’s.

Around the corner from Sibley is Christ Church, another part of Eastman and Rochester that I will miss. The inside of the church is lovely, but the music you can hear on Sunday night is even lovelier. At 9 pm on Sunday nights from October to April, Schola Cantorum performs Gregorian chant, Renaissance and Baroque choral music, and choral improvisation.  The ensemble is made up of Eastman Students and alumni, directed by Stephen Kennedy. The half-hour of music is sung either a capella or accompanied by authentic baroque instruments. I find that the time spent in a candlelit church listening to perfectly blended voices and gorgeously woven harmonies helps to me reflect on the past week and prepare myself for the next.

Although I will miss Rochester, Eastman, and the many spots around the area that I’ve come to love, I have learned that it is the people who surround you that truly make a place and an experience great. For that reason, what I will miss most are the people I have grown close with during my time at Eastman. There are so many people, from teachers to friends, that have shaped who I have become far more than the school or city could do alone. There is Ms. Cowdrick, who was and is a supportive teacher and a wonderful mentor. There’s Eleanor Lee, who plays music just as well as she reads aloud. There’s Chelsea Nelson, who is still my friend despite the fact that I crashed her car. There are hundreds of people that I have met at Eastman, and in some way or another, I will miss each and every one of them.

But here’s my consolation: the music world is small and tight-knit. The friends and connections made here will stay with me for the rest of my life. Although graduation may mean “goodbye”, it’s more of a “goodbye for now.”

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Apartment Search Advice for New Grad Students

The following post was also written by guest poster Amy Skjerseth, who is a recent alumna and has done her share of apartment searching.  Thanks for sharing, Amy!

So you’ll be attending Eastman for graduate school in the fall—congratulations!—and you are wondering about finding an apartment in Rochester. As a recent undergraduate alumna of Eastman and the University of Rochester, I’ve lived in four different apartments during the past three years. I’d like to share some tips and resources with you that will help you get started on finding a place.

You can start by visiting the Office of Residential Life’s Off-Campus Housing database. The database includes listings from nearby property management companies and is easily searchable. If you would like to find a roommate, you can search listings posted by students who already have housing and want a roommate, or you can browse postings by students who do not yet have housing but wish to live with roommates.  You can also try posting the new student Facebook group to connect with another new student.

Besides contacting property management companies, Craigslist is another way to narrow down potential apartments and locations. You could start your search by clicking the “apartments/housing for rent” category in Rochester, and type “East End” into the search bar. This will produce results for the closest apartments to Eastman; look on Gibbs Street, Grove Street, and Windsor Street. You can also expand your search to the nearby streets of East Avenue, University Avenue, Alexander Street, and Park Avenue, which transitions from the East End neighborhood to Park Avenue and Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA). You can find out more about the neighborhoods surrounding Eastman in the section below.

Other useful search engines are Padmapper and Rent Rochester, where you can either search for listings on a map of the city, or search by neighborhood.

Where should I live in Rochester?

Eastman is located in the East End, which is home to many of Rochester’s cultural attractions. With the Little Theatre (an independent movie house), many cafés, restaurants, and the Rochester Public Market, the neighborhood surrounding Eastman has no shortage of fun things to do. If you come to Rochester during the summer to look for apartments, be sure to check out the Rochester International Jazz Festival, which is held each summer on Gibbs Street.

If you want to live as close as possible to campus, you should start your search very early. There is a huge demand for apartments on Gibbs Street, where the Eastman school and dorms are located. Just past the dorms, there are several apartments on both sides of the street. Some of the closest houses and apartment complexes fill up quickly for the coming year, with current students typically signing leases in April or May.

Here are some of the apartment complexes and management companies closest to the Eastman campus (contact them as soon as possible, as they fill up quickly!):

University Place is located across the street from Eastman, on 328 Main Street. Many students choose to live there for the convenience of being steps away from the school, and it’s a nice building with several amenities.

Halo Lofts are modern, well-managed, and contain many amenities (free internet and cable, as well as a washer and dryer in each unit). They are very close to the Eastman dorms, on 60 Grove Street.

Grove Street Management owns many apartments on Gibbs Street, as well as Windsor Street, which is only one street over from Gibbs. Look at their “Grove Place” neighborhood for the closest apartments to Eastman.

If you are looking to live a little farther away from campus and a 10-15 walk doesn’t bother you, consider living on Alexander Street, Park Avenue, or Prince Street. These streets offer an array of things to do that are only a short distance from Eastman, and often, apartments in this location are on the cheaper side of the spectrum.

Alexander Street, only a ten minute walk down East Avenue from Eastman, is home to many bars and restaurants. Just slightly past Alexander is Park Avenue, truly a neighborhood within itself. It has endless restaurants and shops on the “main drag,” in addition to several side streets where individual property owners rent out apartments. A walk down Park Avenue in the fall is a dream; its snow-covered buildings make it unbelievably beautiful in the winter; and in spring or summer, it is a favorite destination for Eastman students when venturing out on a walk or grabbing a bite to eat. The Park Avenue website is a great starting point for exploring the area.

If you want to live on or near Park Avenue, Flower City Management has a good reputation. Several Eastman graduate students rent with them every year and overall seem to be very happy with the apartments and the management’s attentiveness. Flower City also owns a beautiful building located on 8 Prince Street—a side street between University and East Avenues—that offers housing slightly removed from the liveliness of Alexander and Park.

Prince Street is near the beginning of the Neighborhood of the Arts (NOTA). Home to the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery and a public magnet arts high school, this neighborhood is an eclectic mix of arts facilities and residential streets. Scattered throughout this pocket of the city are charming, Victorian-style houses that are reasonably priced. It is close enough to walk or bike to campus, but I would recommend driving in at night and taking advantage of the free parking on the city streets next to Eastman (parking is free on weekdays starting at 6 pm and all weekend).

The South Wedge is a really nice neighborhood to the south of Eastman, but it is usually the farthest away that graduates students choose to live. You would definitely need a car (or at least a bike) for the commute, and Eastman students typically pay around $40 a month for the parking garage right next to Eastman (that’s the student discount). If you biked to campus during the day but wanted to drive in during the night, you could park free at the meters by Eastman starting at 6 pm or anytime on the weekend. The South Wedge is a really hip neighborhood with great restaurants, a European market, pubs, and shops. The apartments I have seen in the Wedge are newly renovated, and there are plenty of great deals in that area.

East End, Park Avenue, NOTA, and the South Wedge are all great places to live—it just depends on how close to campus you want to be. If you can’t find a place on Gibbs Street or would like to find a place farther away from campus, you would be fine waiting until late June or early July to visit Rochester for your apartment search. It is always a good idea to see the apartment before signing the lease. If you absolutely cannot make it to Rochester before school begins, the management companies that I have listed above have excellent reputations. Find out all of the information you can from them before you make your choice, regardless of whether you visit or not. Best of luck on the apartment search!

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Five things to do while waiting for your college decisions

Congratulations – you survived your college auditions!  You may feel a bit like you’ve climbed Mt. Everest, and the hard part is over.  However, the waiting period before you receive your admissions decisions can be equally (sometimes even more) difficult.  Here are some tips to help you make the most of the next phase of the admissions process.

  1. Take some time to think about each of your auditions.  What went well, and what could have been better?  What would you like to do differently in your practicing and preparations next time you have an important audition?  By making each audition a learning experience that will help you grow as a musician, you gain value from it regardless of the outcome.
  2. Don’t be too hard on yourself.  This might sound contrary to the previous point, but it won’t do any good to obsess over a mistake whether big or small.  Musicians have a tendency to be their own toughest critics. Keep a positive outlook, and take some time to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished thus far.  Missing a note or two doesn’t mean that you blew an audition completely. If you were already perfect, there would be no point in going to music school!
  3. Take on new musical challenges.  You’ve probably been so focused on your audition pieces that you are eager to set them aside for a while.  Now is a great time to start new repertoire, change up your warm-up routine and/or devote some extra time to practicing fundamentals.  Set some new goals to accomplish before the summer is over.
  4. Stay focused on schoolwork.  Now is the time to catch up in the classes you missed during the audition season.  Also be sure to stay on top of your academics during the upcoming months, and don’t give in to “senioritis.”  The school you attend in the fall will require a final transcript from your previous school, and you don’t want there to be any questions about a sudden downturn in grades.
  5. Re-connect with family and friends.  The spring and summer will go fast, and next fall you may be far away from people you care about.   Take the time to make some great memories with them now, and let them know how much you appreciate all the support and encouragement they have given you.

When will I find out?

All applicants will be notified via email of their admission decision.  Graduates will be notified by April 1st, and undergraduates will be notified by April 15th.  Decisions are sent as they are finalized, and are not sent all at the same time.  If your friend receives a decision before you, that doesn’t mean anything except that their decision was finalized sooner.  Rest assured that the admissions team is working feverishly to let you know as quickly as possible.

Image: Clocks by blue2likeyou

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Getting Involved in Student Life at Eastman

The follow post was written by Eastman undergraduate vocalist Celeste Pellegrino.  Thanks Celeste!


Hi! My name is Celeste and I am a junior, double major in Vocal Performance and Music Education here at Eastman. An average day for me at Eastman is filled with classes, homework, rehearsals, practicing, and working as a student assistant in both the Office of Admissions and the Office of Residential Life. As you can imagine, things can get stressful when you are a double major. Luckily, Eastman has an amazing Students’ Association (SA) that helps us balance our hectic schedules.

I have always loved being involved in extracurricular activities. In high school I was a member of a variety of clubs that were both student and school-run. I thought that I would have to give this up when I decided to apply to music schools. To my surprise, I discovered that Eastman has a very active student life scene.

I am currently involved in class council in the Students’ Association as the vice president of the class of 2016, a position I esm_sa_logo_clr_solidhave held since freshman year. I love being on class council because we get to plan some of Eastman’s most memorable undergraduate events. Last year our class planned Boo Blast, a Halloween dance. This year we planned Winter Ball, which occurred early in the spring semester. Eastman students look forward to these large-scale events where they can be with their classmates in a non-school setting. This year, Winter Ball had a Masquerade theme where student dressed up and created their own masks to wear. In addition to these large events, the class councils schedule smaller on and off campus activities for students throughout the year. Some of the ones I have been a part of include pumpkin carving, midnight premiers of movies, pottery painting, and a Super Bowl party.

Of course class council is not only for planning events, we have Students’ Association meetings every Thursday night at 9:30pm, which are open to the entire student body. All students can attend these meetings, whether or not they are actively involved in a club at Eastman. We discuss everything from future events, to how to improve our facilities, meals in the dining hall we would like to see more often, and many other topics. Students’ Association also just had their first activities expo. All the different clubs and organizations put out booths in Cominsky Promenade (located on the second floor of the school) to encourage new membership and gauge what events students were interested in this semester.

Getting involved with student life at Eastman is very easy. There are lots of clubs that cater to a wide array of interests. If you do not see a club you are interested in, the Office of Student Life can help you start a new one! One of my friends, who is also a vocalist, is president of Eastman’s Soccer Club. They meet every week, either at the University of Rochester or at an indoor league, and play soccer. This club is a great way to stay active and meet new people who enjoy sports. They also just celebrated a win at the University of Rochester’s intermural league championships.

Other clubs at Eastman include Eastman for Earth (an environmental awareness club), Eastmanites Anonymous (weekly movie nights), Mu Phi Epsilon and Sigma Alpha Iota (our Greek life on campus), Chinese Cultural Association, Spectrum (LGBTQ community) and two religious-affiliated clubs.

I have enjoyed being a part of class council and Students’ Association because it has given me a way to maintain my interests and be a leader outside of music. It also creates an even bigger since of community than Eastman already has because it gives the students a voice to make their views heard.

There is no question, life at Eastman can get crazy at times, but there are numerous people that have your back! And, the best part is that Eastman gives you the chance to take charge of your opportunities while allowing you to discover and continue your other interests. I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to get involved!



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A Day in the Life of a Jazz Major

The following guest post was written by current Eastman jazz major Emiliano Lasansky.  Thanks Emiliano!  For more info on majoring in jazz at Eastman, please also visit the Jazz and Contemporary Media department website.Emiliano-L


A normal day as a Jazz major at Eastman can be exciting, and is often pretty busy. When we’re not in a rehearsal or a class we might be playing on sessions, checking out recordings or practicing. This article will give you a good idea of what a normal day in the life of an Eastman jazz major your junior year is like.

  • 8:30am-10am, Music History: This class makes up part of the core requirements for any undergraduate degree. Music History is a 3 semester long course. I am currently in my 3rd semester where we cover 1900 to present day. Today we studied some of Bela Bartok’s shorter compositions for piano based on folk songs he recorded in Hungary. We learned that this is an early example of musicology!
  • 11:00am-12:30pm, Jazz Theory: I’ve found this to be my favorite class this semester! This is a two semester long course with Prof. Dariusz Terefenko, professor of both Theory and Jazz Piano. This course focuses on learning theory principles used by Bach and 20th century composers like Webern, Messiaen, Debussy and Shostakovich to name a few. Today we analyzed Messiaen’s Prelude #5, and its’ use of the diminished scale, which turns out to have some interesting connections to jazz harmony. For next week our assignment is to write a jazz composition using the harmonic techniques of Messiaen.
  • 12:45am-2:30, Eastman Jazz Ensemble: As jazz majors, we audition at the beginning of the academic year for a large ensemble. This year I am playing bass with the Eastman Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Prof. Bill Dobbins. We just played a concert of Jim McNeely’s music recently. Mr. McNeely visited Eastman and worked with us in preparation for the the performance, and then conducted and played piano with us in the concert.

Today we started learning some of the music of Billy Strayhorn. This year is the centennial of Strayhorn’s birth. As a tribute to the composer Eastman Jazz Ensemble is giving a series of concerts of Mr. Strayhorn’s music. I’m really excited for one performance this March! The band is traveling to New York City to play some of Strayhorn’s music at Dizzy’s Jazz Club in Lincoln Center.

  • 3:30pm-4:30pm, Jazz Composition: In this class we work with Professor Dobbins to analyze compositions by composers like Bill Evans and Joe Henderson. After analyzing a collection of tunes by that composer, we attempt to write our own composition in that style. This is fun and very challenging! As part of the class everyone has one on one meetings with Prof. Dobbins where we fine tune our own compositions for the class.
  • 5:30pm, Dinner: I usually eat dinner with my friends in the Dining Center in the dorms. We usually go over the stuff we did that day, hang out and talk about music or sometime the NBA (one of my friends is a 76er’s fan, and they haven’t been having a good season…)
  • 7:00pm-9:00pm, Homework/Practice
  • 9:00pm-11:00pm, Rehearsal for Friend’s Recital: One of my close friends who is a saxophonist is giving his Senior Recital in a couple weeks so we’ve started rehearsing for it.  Jazz majors get to pick the repertoire we play in our degree recitals. This can make for a fun and challenging concert. For my friends recital we are playing music by Joe Henderson, Thelonious Monk and some of his original compositions.

While the days here sometimes get to be very busy, there is never a shortage of new experiences.

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My Audition Experience

by Nick German – Music Education/Piano. Class of 2015

As I write these words to my eager, excited, and potentially stressed-out prospective fellow students, I am sitting in front of a computer with a smile on my face. This smile is not there because I finally played my Bach to my teachers’ liking, or even because I just listened to an amazing concert. This smile is here because I know that dreams really can become reality. It feels like it was just yesterday when I shared a dream similar to so many of yours: to find myself in a place where I could develop into the best musician and person I could be. During my college search, I had a strong feeling that the Eastman School of Music was the place for me: a place where hard work pays off, where you can walk down the halls singing your favorite Mozart piece without getting funny looks. (I know…sounds nice doesn’t it?) It’s a place I now call home. I would love to take you through the day where it all began.

My name is Nick German and I am a sophomore pianist here at Eastman. As you read this, I can imagine how you might be feeling: anxious, nervous, and stressed. It’s OK! You are no different from me or any of my classmates when we auditioned. Sometimes you may even think “What am I doing!?” or “There is no way I can get into this school!”. I’m going to let you in on a little secret….professors here at Eastman are not looking for perfection. What they look for is a large amount of talent, confidence, and potential.

Here is a little glimpse into what my audition day at Eastman was like…

It all started when I got out of my car and glanced at the words “Eastman School of Music” on the exterior of the building. As my heart raced, I grabbed the door handle and entered. I’m not going to lie…I was a little nervous (to say the least).  Here I was, a senior in high school who came from a tiny school: a big fish in a little pond. I was suddenly thrown into this huge ocean filled with fish from all over the world. I couldn’t get over how many other students were there: musicians from China, Canada, Russia, Germany, South America, France, and of course all over the U.S.

At first, I was expecting to see serious and not-so-friendly faces among students and faculty. To my delight, I found the complete opposite! I saw smiles on the faces of every student and faculty member I encountered at Eastman. It wasn’t until August that I found out why (although that’s a completely different story!). At this point, my fear and anxiety was starting to fade. It was now time to take my theory exam. When I walked in the classroom, I felt a bit intimidated seeing all those other prospective students in the room. Don’t be worried! Just keep in mind that others are feeling the same way. After my test, I realized that I was worried for nothing.

Now, it was almost time for the audition I’d been working toward for so many years. As I pianist, I had the difficult challenge of finding the “piano basement”. Luckily, I was approached by two current students who were part of the Eastman Orientation Committee, also known as the E.O.C. (The students on the Eastman Orientation Committee were there for any questions I had, and they will be for you too!) One of the students kindly led me down to the basement, and my ears were greeted with a cascade of notes coming from the bottom of the stairs. As I reached the door, I opened it and was slapped in the face with the overwhelming sound of pianists playing Chopin, Debussy, Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven (among so many others). Once again, my heart raced. I opened the door to an empty room and started to warm up. Some advice for all prospective students: don’t feel like you need to impress the musician next to you by playing your fastest and loudest piece. They are not the ones you need to impress – just focus on you and your music.

I looked at the clock, and saw that it was time to make my way upstairs to my audition. It seemed like the longest walk I have ever taken. In the audition room, I found myself face-to-face with eighty-eight keys and several professors. I took a few deep breaths and began. Our professors have a knack for helping you feel right at home and allowing you to play your best. I finished my last note with a smile of relief and joy. The professors smiled too, and even asked me how I was enjoying my audition (just to be sure I wasn’t overwhelmed.) I walked out with a deep breath and finished up the day by meeting a few other nice prospective students. Eventually I was back in my car and headed home.

I won’t lie to you and say that the whole day was stress-free. It wasn’t. However, I will say that my audition here was made as relaxed as it could be. To those of you who will be coming here to audition, I offer a few last words of advice….

  1. Get some sleep the night before and try to eat a good breakfast.
  2. Relax and breathe! We all know what you are going through and we’re here to help you with anything you need.
  3. Try your best and have no regrets (easier said than done, I know).
  4. Be yourself and play from your heart.
  5. Have fun and enjoy your experience here!

As I close, I want to wish you all the best of luck. Wear a smile and remember why you are here. No matter what the outcome is, remember: dream big and be proud of yourself! In the words of J.S. Bach: “There’s nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.”

I wish you all the best of luck on your auditions, and I’m looking forward to seeing those big smiles!


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What’s special about Eastman’s undergraduate program? – part 2

This is the second post in a two-part series written by Matthew Ardizzone, Eastman’s Associate Dean of Admissions.

In Part One on this topic, I focused on our students and alumni.  As music schools across the country start to grapple with the question of how to best prepare their students for the changing musical landscape of the 21st century, I look at our alumni and observe how we have already been preparing students for the unknown. We have a sense that as a school we need to expand our definition of what a performing artist needs to be able to do. But it’s clear our students are already coming to us with broader visions of how they might engage in a life in music, and they are fulfilling those visions as alumni.

This makes me immensely proud, both as Eastman’s admissions dean and as an alumnus, and leads me to the next thing that makes Eastman special.

Eastman’s tradition of artistic excellence

Artistic excellence remains at the core of everything we do. When I say artistic excellence, that extends beyond the work done on the major instrument. In the words of our Dean, Jamal Rossi:

In order to have something meaningful to say, a musician must lead a rich and interesting life.  Toward that end, we believe in educating the whole student—not just about the techniques of music, but also through the study of humanities, by interdisciplinary pursuits, and by converging music with other arts” (from Dean’s Welcome).

To this end, Eastman boasts its own Humanities department which plays a major role in fostering a vibrant intellectual atmosphere at Eastman, along with top-notch departments of musicology and music theory. Humanities offerings in languages, literature, history, philosophy, film studies, art history, psychology and political science make it possible for Eastman students to complete their minimum humanities requirements (24 credits, or 1 course for each of your 8 semesters) on the Eastman campus. Note that there are no strict distribution, or general education, requirements (those not interested in math read: no math!). And for those whose academic interests expand beyond these offerings, there is the entire course catalog of the College of Arts, Sciences & Engineering to choose from.

Comprehensive curriculum – strong musical core with room to design

Musicianship skills are paramount and are a major focus of our curriculum, with five semesters of aural and written theory that give our students an unmatched grounding in musical fundamentals, an often over-looked area of their previous musical studies. This is supplemented with up to four semesters of keyboard skills (based on each student’s entering proficiency level).

All of our students are experiencing this core education that puts their musicianship and artistry at the center of everything they do. Around that, we provide the opportunity for students to take elective courses in arts entrepreneurship – we’ve been doing that since 1998 and have ‘written the book’ on arts leadership that many other schools are now following. We foster creativity through programs like the Musical Arts major, the Kaufman Entrepreneurial Year program, Take Five, and the many elective opportunities for performing ‘outside the box’ of the minimum degree requirements. This is something that exists both in the curriculum and in the culture of Eastman. It has led to the development of student-run groups like SoundExchange, Ossia, and others. Our undergraduate viewbook profiles ten Eastman students pursuing the bachelor of music degree in ten distinct ways, and I encourage you to check it out.

And that’s all without getting into some of the most basic components of what we have to offer: exceptional faculty, amazing performance facilities, and one of the world’s preeminent music libraries right here on our campus. Many schools can talk about great teachers and facilities. Eastman’s faculty is not only truly at the top of their respective fields, but, almost more importantly, completely dedicated to their teaching at Eastman. All Eastman students take their lessons with Eastman faculty. The fact that we have an outstanding graduate program means that masters and doctoral students are part of the studio, and sometimes even assist with some extra coaching (technique lessons or warm-up sessions), but Eastman faculty are responsible for teaching all fourteen lessons per semester. They do tend to be in demand as performers and teachers, but any lesson missed must be made up.

When it comes to performance spaces, I never tire of hearing about students and their “Kodak moments” (a reference your parents may more readily appreciate). This is the moment when a prospective student visiting Eastman steps into Kodak Hall and experiences an overwhelming sensation that goes something like, “wow…this is where I want to be.” Kodak is a glorious performance space, and it is complemented by the beautiful Kilbourn Hall (ideal for chamber music, solo piano, voice and smaller opera productions) and the more intimate (and newly built) Hatch Recital Hall, a true gem of a space with amazing (and adjustable) acoustics. But facilities do not make a music school so much as the people that inhabit it. At Eastman we are blessed to have both!

But I know I can’t convince you of how special a place Eastman is through a blog post. The ideal way to experience it is to visit, whether during your sophomore or junior year (or earlier!) or as a senior auditioning in February. Sign up here for a visit. If that’s not possible, contact us by phone or email and keep an eye out for one of our online webinars. Also explore our Summer@Eastman offerings, including the core Music Horizons program. There’s much more to say about what distinguishes Eastman, and, more importantly, what we have to offer that is in line with what you are looking for in your undergraduate education. We look forward to hearing from you with your questions.

In the meantime, happy practicing!



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