Getting to know the Music department at X
If you’re ever walking up Notre Dame Avenue at any point in the day, chances are you can hear the distant sounds of a trumpet singing, a drum kit being put to good use, or the fluttering of piano keys.
Inside the walls of Gilmora sits a unique department, it’s the music department! This whole other world on campus is full of life and energy.
It’s very easy to get wrapped up in your own life and get distracted with your own studies. However, the music department here has so much to offer, and it’s worth sticking your nose into.
Not to be bias, but this department has some of the coolest profs, students, and classes that this university has to offer. Speaking of profs, I sat down with a few of them to get to know them and the music world at StFX better.
Zoe Leger is the newest member of the Music faculty this year. Leger is also a graduate from the jazz program here at StFX!
SB: As a new faculty member, what are you most excited for in this upcoming school year?
ZL: That’s a tough question; it’s been fantastic to be back at my alma mater on the faculty side this year, so there’s much to look forward to. I think I am most excited to meet and hear the next generation of artists that will be graduating from this program. Being a Music student is an exciting, invigorating and exhausting experience; it pushes you to be the best musician you can possibly be. Getting to know more students in the program and hearing the gifts they have to share I know will be thrilling.
SB: You’re a very successful artist yourself, a composer, arranger, vocalist, and pianist- what do you hope to impress upon the students this year?
ZL: Thank you! I feel fortunate to have been able to work in my field and do what I love every day since graduating from this program. I also know you have to work your butt off to make that happen, and no amount of talent can substitute for self-discipline and hard work. If I can instill one thing in my students, I hope it to be confidence to pursue what they desire for themselves and their careers, as well as the work ethic and determination to get them there.
Kenji Omae is another new member the faculty. Omae joined the department in 2017 for Saxophone Studio, Jazz Theory, Advancing Improvisation, Jazz Styles and Analysis. After being based in Seoul for fifteen years, he has brought his astonishing talents here to the StFX community. I was asking about what kind of energy there was buzzing around the department and Omae had this to say, “I’m new, but all I’ve seen is this positive, vibrant energy, and I just think that word of that will get out. It’s good for everybody”.
Another member of the music faculty who is always fun to sit down and chat with is Kevin Brunkhorst. Brunkhorst is the chair of the Music department and has been since 2014. He teaches Guitar Studio, The Beatles and Guitar Ensemble.
He has a lot of knowledge about music and the industry, having worked in it for quite some time before completing his master’s at the University of North Texas.
I wanted to know how non-music majors could become more involved in the Music department here at X,
“Well, a couple things- except for instrument lessons, anyone can take a music course. If you like music and just want to have music in your life for example, we’ve got a bunch of courses for that such as, The Beatles, History of Pop Music, The Art of Listening, World Music, Music for Radio, TV and films, and others. The musical community here is a pretty strong community on campus and in Gilmora. The music crowd is welcoming, and the faculty is too. Some people just want music in their life and they should have it.”
While the professors of the department are the backbone to making sure everything gets done, it’s the students that make this program for what it is.
Robyn Gale is a fourth year Bachelor of Music HONS student, majoring in voice. I caught up with Robyn to get a point of view from the student side of the music department.
SB: How has the Music department helped you develop as an artist?
RG: I have learned so much throughout this program, both musically and about myself. The classes really help to push my boundaries and help me to become a better musician. The professors each have something really unique to offer as well as each and every student. Because it is a small program we get to know the faculty and our fellow students really well. Looking back to my first year, I am amazed at how much information has been packed into 4 years, and there is still so much left to learn.
SB: What are you looking forward to in your final year of your music degree?
RG: I’m very excited for my final grad recital. This is what every Music student is working towards throughout their years in the program. It is a time when we can showcase everything we’ve been working so hard on throughout our 4 years in the program. I’m also excited about my classes this year, as they are more challenging but will push me harder than they have yet.
Being a music student is not easy work. It requires hours of practice and self-discipline. I know for myself, I’ve taken a few music courses and I’ve been able to see just a glimpse of what goes on in Gilmora. The Music department at X has something to offer for everyone no matter their degree.