Faculty Spotlight: Emma Staffaroni: “The Musicality of Language”?

When she’s not busy teaching, Emma Staffaroni, Teaching Fellow in English, takes the stage by storm with her vocal and piano-playing talents. Staffaroni’s past experiences in the performing arts include roles in various school musical productions and singing for Boston College’s all-female a capella group, BC Sharps.

Her appreciation for the beauty of vocal harmonies and the sounds of words, both in music and literature, has collided into a career as an English teacher and an a capella singer. She sat down with The Phillipian staff for an interview.

Q: What types of art do you currently do or have done in the past?

A: My primary art form has been music. I played the piano my whole life; then, I got really focused on singing in high school, so I joined a jazz choir, and we travelled around Europe [to perform.] When I got to college, I decided to make music more of a fun part of my life rather than the main focus of my education. So, I [decided to join] BC Sharps at Boston College. It was a really important community for me during college and an awesome way to integrate my love of music into study.

Q: What is the difference between singing in a co-ed a cappella group and in an all-female a capella group?

A: We have sort of a unique sound, being all female voices. We can achieve a particular kind of blend that the co-ed groups can’t achieve just by virtue of having male and female ranges. [As a result], we did a lot of really tight arrangements with close harmonies.

Q: How did you initially become interested in singing?

A: I’ve always love singing, and singing was probably what led me to the piano. I dabbled in musical theater, [but soon] realized that I wasn’t so much of a theater performer as a choral performer. I preferred to sing in groups over being the star of the show. It was a different kind of challenge. That communal experience appealed to me more than just practicing the piano at home, alone.

Q: Do you ever find links between your interest in singing, art and your career as an English teacher?

A: I think that literature is an art form, so in general I have a great appreciation for aesthetic beauty; beauty in all different types of human expression, whether it’s with a song, a poem, or other types of literature. Poetry and rhapsody are very similar in terms of what they’re doing, so the music in poems and the sounds of words have always appealed to me. I [also] have a love of languages, so the musicality of language, literature and other art forms just appeal to me in general.