MUS 101, the first music theory course taken as a Music major, is divided into two sections: music technology and music literacy. The class has two discussion sections each week, all of which are devoted to music literacy topics. It also has three lecture days each week, two of which cover music technology topics, while the other covers music literacy.
Each class was a surprise, as our professor would bring in various instruments– some more strange than others– and we would observe as she put together recordings, edited to all play out of one side of the room, or all sound really quiet, or anything else you can think of.
We would watch students volunteer to stand in front of the class and sing their hearts as our professor moved their microphone around their head and across the room.
Some days, each student would get to log onto an online keyboard connected to the professor’s device and interrupt class with short songs or riffs they come up with on the spot.
Our assignments were just as interesting.
For one assignment this semester, I spent my time in the practice room, recording as I slapped random keys on the piano in sync with the rhythm my professor composed, just to show that I knew how to record and follow a rhythm.
Though it wasn’t always fun to wake up for a daily 9 a.m. class, I was never disappointed with entertainment.
And MUS 107, the first-year musicianship course, came with its own surprises as well.
Most classes began with the entire lecture room harmonizing under the direction of our professor. We would create chord progressions and resolve melodies, all by tuning into each other and following the solfege given by the professor.
One day, we even spent the lecture playing a game of jeopardy to review for our exams. We gathered into teams with the people around us, and at each turn, everyone hopped on the opportunity to perform and get the most points for their team, even if that meant singing a solo or duet for the class.
First-year music classes are definitely not the calmest ways to begin each morning, but they sure do wake you up, and they provide plenty of entertainment.
It can be difficult to find motivation to practice, especially when the only available practice space is a ten minute walk through whatever horrible weather may be plaguing the outdoors, to then make your way up a few floors of the music building to the practice rooms.
When I applied to the University of Illinois, I knew that I wanted to major in Music Psychology, but I had only found two undergraduate programs in the country that offered anything of the sort. UIUC was one, which offered a broader, student-led course structure than anywhere else I had researched. I simply had to attend.
When I first found out I had been accepted into UIUC’s voice program, I spent weeks obsessively thinking about dorm living. Which residence hall should I pick? Should I loft my bed? Which residence hall has the best food? The questions came flying and as the eldest child and the first in my family to go out of town for college, I really didn’t know where to start. That whole experience feels so long ago. Right now, I’m nearing my 21st birthday. I’ve left the residence halls and now I have an apartment, living with the same roommate I had during my freshman year. Having an apartment is wonderful, but I loved my life in University Housing, and I would love to offer advice on dorm-life from a music major’s perspective.
During the height of the pandemic, I would often take walks around the Urbana neighborhoods to get some fresh air and see more of the outdoors. I used to always see dogs being walked around with their owners, and I realized how badly I wanted one. It was such a bright spot in my day to see the joy that dogs can bring to other people, and since I saw it so often, I desperately wanted that in my own life. I did my research and found my sweet Sailor a few months later. She and I have been together since her seven-week birthday, and her Goldendoodle energy has only gotten stronger in the last year. It’s wonderful to have a companion so loving, and during the stay at home period, she was such a great support system for me.
Winter and summer vacations are the breaks that students look forward to the most. Many people have already been travel hacking and planning their vacation travels before the break officially starts. Since mid-December, I saw many beautiful photos of my friends traveling when scrolling social media. But even so, I chose to stay in the Urbana-Champaign area, hoping to explore this area more deeply during the winter vacation.
I am very happy to start my master’s degree at the University of Illinois as an international student. This is my first time studying abroad. Coming to the US for the first time on my own, everything is such a great challenge for me. Booking plane tickets, commuting from Chicago to the Urbana-Champaign area, settling down, buying necessities, or even cooking, are all thrilling adventures. I am thankful so far that this process went smoothly, especially during the pandemic. I also met many friends from different regions, and we all support each other in a new environment. I even started a new hobby of vlogging to treasure all these memorable times