Monthly Archives: January 2014


Ever meet anyone that can taste shapes or words? Or someone that identifies letters and numbers with a color?

In my case, I hear sound in color.

I actually also associate letters and numbers and words with color as well as days of the week, and months of the year. All of these have a vivid color association but I identify most strongly with my color-hearing.

It is called synesthesia. It is a cross wiring of the brain where two (or more) senses interact or one sense triggers another at the same time. It is involuntary, so anyone that has this can not control it. It is not a disease or contagious. It is thought to have a genetic link and is more common in females.

It is quite wonderful to be honest and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.

Continue reading

Online Teaching and Learning

Online Pedagogy

One of my assignments as a TA is to teach online and in-classroom classes. My undergraduate degree in music education from Westminster College in PA prepared me impressively well to deal with the in-classroom model. While I was not explicitly taught pedagogy in online environments, I still think that a lot of the same principals apply and I have several ideas and thoughts on what works and what does not work with online learning. I have also been thinking a lot about the different perspectives of online learning, both as a teacher and as a student.

Continue reading

In Honor of a Mentor

I am very fortunate. I have what most people wish they could have much later in their career and in their life in general.

I have a mentor.

If he ever reads this, I can just see him puffing up with pride and self-importance. I think he likes that I associate him with that title. I don’t mind though. Really. He deserves it.

When we met, I was 18 and a freshmen in college. I only knew him as the music theory professor that taught the “hard” theory classes. Everyone cautioned me to stay on top of my work in his class.

They were right. I did have to work a little harder in his class but, since it was challenging in a good way, I enjoyed it. I was also frequently amused and bemused by his random analogies and comments.

When I realized that I wanted to go to graduate school to (hopefully) be a professor, I knew that I would need help. I knew that the scope of the application in terms of quality was beyond me. At the time, this was a big step for me because I didn’t usually ask for help or even know how, and certainly not in such a substantial way.

I did not know him well at the time and he did not know me, but I did suspect that he would know how to help me. I remember a class where he expressed that if anyone wanted to teach in higher ed, he would be able to help. However, I didn’t think I could just walk in and ask for an independent study for a paper to send off to graduate schools. Why would he take me seriously? He didn’t know me.

So I found a way to get my head in his office on a more frequent basis. I started slowly at first. I wanted the relationship to develop organically. Eventually, I told him that I wanted to be an ethnomusicologist and his reaction was heartening. He was excited and thrilled. I was surprised at such a strong reaction but I took it as a good sign.

The next day, the orchestra director had heard about my wish from him and came up to me and expressed her enthusiasm. This reaction was encouraging to me since I admire her immensely.

When I explained to him that I needed a paper for my application, he immediately suggested an independent study. I was pleased. Though I had yet to assign the title of mentor, I was relieved that someone was willing to help me. Little did I know that he would deliver in spades.

Continue reading

Without the Humanities

Human History Without The Humanities

I frequently engage in this train of thought: what would the world and human history be like if the humanities had never existed?

A slightly related train of thought includes: what would our lives be like without humanities majors and degrees? Or what if the humanities in all the various forms were not taught at colleges and universities?

I began contemplating this line of inquiry more frequently after a wonderful conversation with one of my best friends. At the time of this post, she is a doctoral student at an Ivy League University where she is in a hard science field. At the time of our conversation, we were in the senior year of our undergraduate school and agonizing over which graduate school to attend.

The conversation turned to an intense but friendly debate: humanities vs hard science and their methodologies and contributions to society and all the subcategories one can think of within this debate.

Her job was to argue that the hard sciences are superior in importance and my job was to argue that they are equal in importance.

Now, before I continue, I would like to say that my friend is an accomplished poet and writer. She is also a lover of music, art, philosophy, and culture. She is truly a renaissance woman and while science is her career, the humanities are very, very important to her.

Quick note: while the humanities and education is my career, I do like to read about the hard sciences and keep up in the same way that she keeps up with current and past cultural happenings.

However, we engaged in this debate to see what would happen. It was easily one of the best conversations of my life.

Continue reading