Open Expressions – Or On Key

Music is a much different subject than Math, English, or Science. Music is a sophisticated, organized art form, which nonetheless relies on free expression in order to communicate a message to an audience. Although music theory and analysis taught in the classroom are sciences, they are powerful tools for musicians to express their music better. The music department at Andover goes even further by adding the personal quality of music through personal connections with students in private lessons, coachings, rehearsals, and classes. Andover’s music department is comprised of a versatile faculty that facilitates these connections. Many students are unacquainted with the Graves Hall’s classrooms until they have to fulfill the music diploma requirement. Yet there is still a significant portion of the student body that plays some instrument or sings. The majority of the music faculty interact with this portion of the student body, teaching everything from the bagpipes to the banjo and almost everything in between. Because of the intimate nature of private instruction, the music department’s teachers maintain a personal connection with the students. Not only involved in teaching individually, Andover’s music teachers also conduct orchestras (or direct choirs), teach classes and coach chamber music groups. Dr. Peter Warsaw, for example, does all four! Music teachers are the most versatile of Andover’s teachers. The relaxed structure of the department enables PA’s music teachers to establish personal connections outside of private lessons. For example, when I was involved in a chamber music group consisting of piano, cello, and violin, a piano teacher usually coached us. However, it was still easy to convince a violin teacher to hear us and give a second opinion from her different, string player’s perspective. Our teachers were more concerned with the music and less with specific assigned roles. In the classroom setting last year, my music theory teacher not only worked with me several times on my piece for the composer’s concert but also assisted me in playing the piano part for almost the entire concert. In another setting, the conductor of symphony, cantata, and the chamber orchestra, the beloved William Thomas, was willing to hear me and a former Phillips Academy student on more than one occasion rehearse a piece that we performed on that student’s alumnus recital. Andover’s music teachers are dedicated to music, and even more importantly, they are dedicated to the students. The music department is responsive to students that ask for help because the faculty are flexible and attentive. Andover’s music teachers are willing to hear an ensemble given the students’ enthusiasm for music and request for help. The responsive, flexible, and personal music faculty at Phillips Academy rounds out a great Music Department.