Music

The music program is structured to integrate theory and practice. Students select a combination of component courses that together constitute one full course (called a Music Third). A minimal Music Third includes four components:

  1. Individual instruction (instrumental performance, composition, or voice), the central area of study around which the rest of the program is planned
  2. Theory and/or history (see requirements below)
  3. A performance ensemble (see area requirements below);
  4. Concert attendance/Music Tuesdays requirement (see below)

The student, in consultation with the faculty, plans the music program best suited to individual needs and interests. Advanced students may, with faculty consent, elect to take two-thirds of their course of study in music. 

The music program also offers lectures, seminars, and individual components as stand-alone credits. Students may elect to take a lecture or seminar as part of their overall Music Third (as a component) but do not have to be part of a Music Third to take any of these courses (see descriptions, below).

An FYS in Music will also be offered for 2022/2023 (see description, below).

Components as Part of a Music Third

The following components are offered as part of a full Music Third:

Individual Instruction

A limited number of lessons are available for one credit to intermediate or advanced students who do not wish to take a full Music Third.

Individual instruction is arranged by audition with the following members of the music faculty and affiliate artists:

  • Composition—Patrick Muchmore, John Yannelli
  • Guitar (acoustic), Banjo, and Mandolin—William Anderson
  • Guitar (jazz/blues)—Glenn Alexander
  • Bass (jazz/blues)—Bill Moring
  • Harpsichord and Fortepiano—Carsten Schmidt
  • Piano—Martin Goldray, Paul Kerekes, Bari Mort, Carsten Schmidt
  • Piano (jazz)—Billy Lester
  • Organ—Martin Goldray
  • Voice—Mary Phillips, Molly Quinn, Thomas Young, TBA
  • Flute—Roberta Michel
  • Oboe—Stuart Breczinski
  • Clarinet—Benjamin Fingland
  • Saxophone—John Isley
  • Bassoon—James Jeter
  • Trumpet—Christopher Anderson
  • Trombone—Jen Baker
  • Tuba—Andrew Bove
  • Percussion (drum set)—Matt Wilson
  • Percussion (mallet)—Ian Antonio
  • Harp—Mia Theodoratus
  • Violin—Ragga Petursdottir, Richard Rood
  • Viola—Daniel Panner
  • Violoncello—James Wilson
  • Contrabass—Mark Helias

The director of the music program will arrange all instrumental study with the affiliate-artist faculty members who teach off campus. In all cases, individual instruction involves consultation with members of the faculty and the director of the music program. Instructors for instruments not listed above will also be arranged.

Lessons and Auditions

Beginning lessons are offered only in voice and piano. A limited number of beginning acoustic guitar lessons are offered based on prior musical experience. All other instrumentalists are expected to demonstrate a level of proficiency on their instruments. In general, the music faculty encourages students to prepare two excerpts from two contrasting works that demonstrate their musical background and technical abilities. Auditions for instruments and voice, which are held at the beginning of the first week of classes, are for placement purposes only.

Vocal Auditions, Placement, and Juries

The voice faculty encourages students to prepare two contrasting works that demonstrate the student’s musical background and innate vocal skills. Vocal auditions enable the faculty to place the singer in the class most appropriate for his or her current level of vocal production. Students will be placed in either an individual voice lesson (two half-hour lessons per week) or in Studio Class (there are four different studio classes, as well as the seminar Self Discovery Through Singing). Voice juries at the end of the year evaluate each student’s progress.

Piano Auditions and Placement

The piano faculty encourages students to prepare two contrasting works that demonstrate the student’s musical background and keyboard technique. Piano auditions enable the faculty to place the student with the appropriate teacher in either an individual piano lesson or in the Keyboard Lab, given his or her current level of preparation.

Acoustic and Jazz Guitar Auditions and Placement

The guitar faculty encourages students to prepare two contrasting works that demonstrate the student’s musical background, guitar technique, and—for jazz and blues—improvisational ability. Guitar auditions enable the faculty to place the guitarist with the appropriate teacher in either an individual guitar lesson or in the Guitar Class. 

Composition Lessons

The student who is interested in individual instruction in composition must demonstrate an appropriate background.

Music 2022-2023 Courses

Advanced Theory

Advanced Theory: Advanced Tonal Theory and Analysis

Component—

This course will focus on the analysis of tonal music, with a particular emphasis on chromatic harmony. Our goal will be to quickly develop a basic understanding and skill in this area and then refine them in the analysis of complete movements and works. Our repertoire will range from Bach to Brahms, and we will try to incorporate music that class participants might be studying in their lessons or ensembles.

Faculty

Advanced Theory: Jazz Theory and Harmony

Component—

This course will study the building blocks and concepts of jazz theory, harmony, and rhythm. That will include the study of the standard modes and scales, as well as the use of melodic and harmonic minor scales and their respective modals systems. It will include the study and application of diminished and augmented scales and their role in harmonic progression, particularly the diminished chord as a parental structure. An in-depth study will be given to harmony and harmonic progression through analysis and memorization of triads, extensions, and alterations, as well as substitute chords, reharmonization, and back cycling. We will look at polytonality and the superposition of various hybrid chords over different bass tones and other harmonic structures. We will study and apply all of the above to their characteristic and stylistic genres, including bebop, modal, free, and progressive jazz. The study of rhythm, which is possibly the single-most-important aspect of jazz, will be a primary focus, as well. We will also use composition as a way to absorb and truly understand the concepts discussed.

Faculty

Advanced Theory: 20th-Century Theoretical Approaches: Post-Tonal and Rock Music

Component—

This course will be an examination of various theoretical approaches to music of the 20th century, including post-tonal, serial, textural, minimalist, and pop/rock music. Our primary text will be Joseph Straus’s Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory, but we will also explore other relevant texts—including scores and recordings of the works themselves. This course will include study of the music of Schoenberg, Webern, Pink Floyd, Ligeti, Bartók, Reich, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Corigliano, and Del Tredici, among others.

Faculty

Advanced Theory: Compositional Tools and Techniques

Component—

This course will be an introduction to a wide array of compositional languages, primarily within a notated context. We will talk about a wide variety of harmonic palettes, including some examples of microtonality à la Ben Johnston and Alois Hába. We will explore various serial procedures, such as the “classical” serialism of Schoenberg and Webern and the rotational ideas of Ruth Crawford Seeger and Stravinsky. We’ll discuss various methods for guiding improvisation, including the “diamond clef” compositions of Anthony Braxton. Rhythmic and metric ideas will be introduced, including asymmetric time signatures, metric modulation as pioneered by Elliott Carter, and rhythmic serialism as in the work of Milton Babbitt and Olivier Messiaen. We’ll talk about the potential uses of rhythmic and harmonic symmetry—as, for example, in the chord progressions of John Coltrane’s Giant Steps. You will learn about these both through score study and through your own small compositional projects. As we jump from topic to topic, I will also have you practice increasingly complex notational mini-projects and will introduce you to the rudiments of orchestration for keyboards, strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. At the end of the year, you will have a broad range of musical languages with which to express your own personal voice; and you will have had considerable practice in communicating those ideas effectively.

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Classes for Beginning Students

Guitar Class

Component—

This course is for beginning students in acoustic or electric guitar.

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Keyboard Lab

Component—

This course is designed to accommodate beginning piano students, who take Keyboard Lab as the core of their Music Third. This instruction takes place in a group setting, with eight keyboard stations and one master station. Students will be introduced to elementary keyboard technique and simple piano pieces.

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Studio Class

Component—

This is a beginning course in basic vocal technique. Each student’s vocal needs are met within the structure and content of the class.

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Components for Individual Credit

Individual Instruction – Lessons

— | 1 credit

See list above for Instruments or Composition.

Chamber Music/Performance Ensemble

See list under Performance Ensembles.

Music History

— | 2 credits

See list under Music History components.

Music Technology

— | 2 credits

See description under Music Technology Courses.

Lectures and Seminars

First-Year Studies in Performing Arts: A Multidisciplinary Collective/Portal in Practice and Theory

FYS—Year | 10 credits

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. —Arundhati Roy, The Pandemic is a Portal (April 2020)

Acclaimed feminist author, educator, and revolutionary thinker, bell hooks wrote, “Art constitutes one of the rare locations where acts of transcendence can take place and have a wide-ranging transformative impact” (from Art on My Mind: Visual Politics, 1999). Historian Howard Zinn echoes this, saying, “…the artist transcends the immediate. Transcends the here and now. Transcends the madness of the world. Transcends terrorism and war. The artist thinks, acts, performs music, and writes outside the framework that society has created…” (from Artists in Times of War, 2003). The tumultuous period that we are currently experiencing—with unprecedented challenges in social, political, and environmental realms—sets the stage for us as artists to contribute the vital elements of human civilization that are our domain. Collective effort is at the heart of performing arts; thus, our contributions rely upon our abilities to connect and coordinate. Ultimately, the power of any collective relies upon the vibrance of each member. From Broadway, opera, and concert stages to experimental performance venues and political demonstrations, collective actions by artists have played a part in moving society forward. We will study works by visionary artists who have been inspired to venture across disciplines to grapple with the challenges of their times (including Anna Deveare Smith, Tony Kushner, Janelle Monet, Bill T. Jones, Meredith Monk) and will join forces, drawing upon the unique history of each participant to construct an expansive portal for individual and collaborative inquiry. This is a course for students with an established practice and experience in theatre, music, and/or dance who wish to continue advancing skills in their established disciplines. Students will take additional multiple components in dance, music, or theatre to comprise a Third program in one of these performing arts. Students will be guided through a selection of components in their discipline during registration and will attend discipline-specific information sessions as part of the registration process.

  • Theatre students will take two or three additional theatre components, along with biweekly Theatre Meetings and periodic Think Tank meetings, and will fulfill Tech Credit requirements. Students are welcome to audition for theatre projects each semester.
  • Music students will take three or four additional components, including individual lessons, Music Theory, Music History, Music Technology (optional), and Performance Ensemble (by audition), along with concert attendance and periodic Music Tuesday meetings. Students are welcome to join more than one performance ensemble (recommended for students who have had previous training in music, such as instrumental lessons, beginning theory).
  • Dance students will take three or four additional components, including movement practice classes and creative practice, along with periodic Dance Meetings, and will fulfill the Dance Tech Production requirements. Students are welcome to audition for dance program performances each semester;

FYS in Performing Arts is a yearlong course comprised of a weekly component class and weekly individual donning conferences. Serving as a home base for students, it will be a core class from which explorations into various disciplines arise. Class meetings will incorporate both practice-based and theoretically-based activities, experimenting with interdisciplinary possibilities through collaborative exercises, reflection, discussion, reading, and writing. Class readings will be selected texts from within theatre, music, and dance, as well as fields beyond the arts. Conferences in the spring semester may be weekly or biweekly, according to students’ needs and progress. Over the course of the year, we will conceptualize and create a collective multidisciplinary performance work to be shown informally at the end of the spring semester, with elements contributed by each member of the class/collective. Independent research inquiries will be pursued throughout the year, supported by individual conferences and periodic working groups in class, culminating in the writing, revising, and presentation of a research paper in the spring semester. The aim of this course is to support the development of skills necessary for expansive artistic collaboration and sustained academic research. Supported by the immersive opportunities of SLC’s theatre, music, and dance programs, with emphasis on live performance, students in this course will acquire new abilities and critical insights through experiential and theoretical studies. FYS in Performing Arts is intended for students who have both a strong interest in theatre, music, and/or dance, as well as a desire to discover more about the interconnectedness of the disciplines.

Faculty

First-Year Studies: Music

FYS— | 10 credits

This course is designed for students with all levels of prior music experience, from beginning to advanced. Each student will be enrolled in a full music program that reflects Sarah Lawrence College’s educational philosophy of closely integrating theory and practice in the study of music. The music program (also called a Music Third) consists of a number of components: individual instruction in voice, an instrument, or composition; courses in history and/or theory; participation in an ensemble; and concert attendance. We will regularly attend performances on campus, as well as in New York City at, for instance, the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. We mostly will start with live musical experiences in order to generate our investigations. The seminar will also feature frequent in-class performances by guest artists, class members, and the instructor. The music that we study in class will range from the early 16th century to the early 21st. Our emphasis will be on Western classical music and will occasionally include jazz, non-Western, and popular music traditions, as well. In order to develop and improve their insights and their ability to share those insights with others, students will write regular short papers and give short presentations and will also complete a larger paper in the spring. Students will have individual and small group conferences with the instructor to work on specific projects.

Faculty

The Philosophy of Music

Open, Large Lecture—Fall | 5 credits

Music is central to most of our lives. How can we understand the experience of music? What does music express? If it expresses emotions, how do those emotions relate to the emotions that we experience in everyday life? Can music without words express emotions with as much clarity as music with words? As a background to these questions, we will look at issues concerning the nature and experience of art in general. We will examine the views of writers such as Plato, Kant, Schopenhauer, Dewey, and Adorno and compare how they understand the role of art in society, along with our own experiences. The musical repertory will include medieval and Renaissance music, music by Bach, songs by Schubert, and examples from the symphonic repertory of composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, and Stravinsky. We will study those works using the techniques of formal analysis that are generally used in music-history classes but also attempt to draw out the many contextual threads: How are they embedded in a culture, and how do they reflect the temperament and orientation of the composers? While most of our musical examples will be from the classical repertory, other styles will occasionally be relevant. The goals of the class are to understand how musical and philosophical thought can illuminate each other and to deepen our awareness of the range and power of music. No prior knowledge of music theory or history is required; we will introduce and define the terms that we need as the class proceeds.

Faculty

Transformation Sounds! Ethnomusicology and Social Change

Open, Lecture—Spring | 5 credits

This course features the interdisciplinary study of music and culture by focusing on the role of music in social change. Why is music so important to social movements? How is music used to both challenge and support certain ideologies and institutions of power? How have governments used music to build national solidarity, and how have activists used it to incite change? How can we relate these phenomena to our own experiences with music in daily life? We will explore answers to these questions through historical and ethnographic literature about music and learn about the diverse settings in which music and politics intersect. The course presents some theoretical foundations of music, self, and society and then examines music and politics in specific contexts. Class sessions will explore topics such as American spirituals during slavery and emancipation, Islamic political movements in Iran, and the role of music and sound in the Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter movements. We will learn the many ways in which music becomes a resource for modeling the kind of social and political transformations that people hope to create in their communities or nations. Throughout the course, we will listen to and discuss numerous musical examples and gain familiarity with the musical genres that we study. Class sessions will be devoted to discussing readings about music from a wide range of fields, including ethnomusicology, anthropology, history, and sociology. No prior experience in music is necessary. Participation in the Solkattu Ensemble (Indian vocal percussion) is strongly encouraged.

Faculty

Ecomusicology: Music, Activism, and Climate Change

Open, Seminar—Fall | 5 credits

This course looks at the intersections of music, culture, and nature. We will study how artists and musicians are using music and sound to address climate change by surveying important trends in the young field of ecomusicology, such as soundscape studies, environmental musical criticism, acoustic ecology, and animal musicalities. Themes will range from music vs. sound and the cultural construction of nature to aurality and the efficacy of sonic activism. Class sessions may include Appalachian coal-mining songs, indigenous music from the Arctic, art music composition, soundscapes, field recordings, birdsong, soundwalks, and musical responses to environmental crises such as Hurricane Katrina and the nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan. Participation in the Faso Foli (West African percussion) ensemble is strongly encouraged. No prior experience in music is necessary.

Faculty

The Beatles

Open, Large seminar—Spring | 3 credits

The impact of The Beatles has been immeasurable. In their seven years as a recording band, they explored and enlarged every aspect of songwriting technique, producing one musical milestone after the next. This class will trace the development of The Beatles chronologically through their 12 original English albums and the singles that were released alongside them. We will focus on the ways in which The Beatles used harmony, phrase structure, rhythm, structural ambiguity, and sonority in continuously innovative ways. We will also look at some of the musical styles and cultural phenomena that The Beatles assimilated and transformed—from early rock & roll, Motown, and The Goon Show to 1960s counterculture—and explore how The Beatles, in turn, influenced music and culture in the 1960s. There will also be guest-led discussions by other members of the music faculty on the following topics: The Beatles and the evolution of studio recording; the use of electronic music techniques (Yannelli); Norwegian Wood and the great sitar explosion (Higgins); electric guitar techniques (Alexander); and acoustic guitar techniques (Anderson). There are no conferences.

Faculty

Music and Sound for Film

Open, Seminar—Spring | 3 credits

This class will explore the ways in which music and sound serve the dramatic intent of a film. As coinhabitants of the aural spectrum, a film’s score and sound design are increasingly called upon to interact. Working in one of these areas now implies an understanding of the other. This class will cover: spotting music/sound with a director, choosing musical themes that correspond to the dramatic needs of a film, using sound design to highlight facets of the world and its characters, conceptualizing the sound world of a film, and designing the music and sound so that they occupy different but complementary spaces. The marriage of sound and music has deep roots in the history of cinema, and special attention will be paid to great works of the past. There will be weekly listening assignments to survey the history of film music and to explore current trends. Technical topics covered will include: intro to ProTools and an overview of basic mixing; concepts in music editing; use of effects such as compression, eq, reverb, and filters; file organization, management, and workflow. Students will work on sound design and/or scoring concepts using video clips that I provide or, better yet, using works from their fellow students in the film department. Music students will be asked to compose cues and nonmusic film students will be asked to sound design scenes, with the goals being technical and expressive clarity.

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Master Classes and Workshops

Master Class

Component—

Master Class is a series of concerts, instrumental and vocal seminars, and lecture demonstrations pertaining to music history, world music, improvisation, jazz, composition, and music technology. Master classes take place on Wednesdays, from 12:30-1:30 p.m., in either Reisinger Concert Hall or Marshall Field House Room 1. The classes are open to the College community.

Music Workshops and Open Concerts

Component—

Music workshops present an opportunity for students to perform the music that they have been studying in an informal, supportive environment. In this class, participants will present a prepared piece and receive constructive feedback from the instructor and from other students. Along with the specifics of each performance, class discussion may include general performance issues, such as dealing with anxiety, stage presence, and other related topics. Each term will consist of three workshops, culminating at the end of each semester in an open concert that is a more formal recital. The entire College community is welcome and encouraged to participate.

Faculty

Music History Classes

Survey of Western Music

Component—

This course is a chronological survey of Western music from the Middle Ages to the present. It will explore the cyclical nature of music that mirrors philosophical and theoretical ideas established in Ancient Greece and how that cycle most notably reappears every 300 years: the Ars nova of the 14th century, Le nuove musiche of the 17th century, and the New Music of the 20th century and beyond. The course involves reading, listening, and class discussions that focus on significant compositions of the Western musical tradition, the evolution of form, questions of aesthetics, and historical perspective. There will be occasional quizzes during the fall term; short, written summary papers or class presentations are required in the spring.

Faculty

The Modern Concerto: Evolutions and Styles

Component—Fall

This course will begin with the origins of the concerto form in the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras and will then explore the many “-isms” of the 20th and 21st centuries, as they manifested themselves in that format. The course will function as both a history course, introducing the biographies of many composers and the evolution of the most important stylistic trends of the modern and contemporary eras, and as a music literature course to acquaint the student with seminal concertos and unsung classics of the genre. In addition to the usual common-practice suspects, students will be introduced to the lives and works of Amy Beach, Dmitri Shostakovich, Unsuk Chin, Tan Dun, John Corigliano, Sofia Gubaidulina, Alban Berg, Giya Kancheli, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Philip Glass, and others. The evolution of many styles will be explored, including spectralism, serialism, microtonalism, eclecticism, minimalism, and brutalism.

Faculty

The Modern Symphony: Evolutions and Styles

Component—Spring

This course will begin with the origins of the symphonic form in the Classical and Romantic eras and will then explore the many “-isms” of the 20th and 21st centuries, as they manifested themselves in that format. The course will function as both a history course, introducing the biographies of many composers and the evolution of the most important stylistic trends of the modern and contemporary eras, and as a music literature course, acquainting the student with seminal symphonies and unsung classics of the genre. In addition to the usual common-practice suspects, students will be introduced to the lives and works of Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Gloria Coates, Anton Webern, Galina Ustvolskaya, Amy Beach, Per Nørgård, Wolfgang Rihm, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, John Adams, and others. The evolution of many styles will be explored, including spectralism, serialism, microtonalism, eclecticism, minimalism, and brutalism.

Faculty

Jazz History

Component—

Jazz music of all styles and periods will be listened to, analyzed, and discussed. Emphasis will be placed on instrumental styles and performance techniques that have evolved in the performance of jazz. Skills in listening to and enjoying some of the finer points of the music will be enhanced by the study of elements such as form, phrasing, instrumentation, instrumental technique, and style. Special emphasis will be placed on the development of modern jazz and its relationship to older styles. Some topics: Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, roots and development of the Big Band sound, Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, lineage of pianists, horn players, evolution of the rhythm section, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Bill Evans, Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, bebop, cool jazz, jazz of the ’60s and ’70s, fusion and jazz rock, jazz of the ’80s, and modern trends. The crossover of jazz into other styles of modern music, such as rock and R&B, will be discussed, as will the influence that modern concert music and world music has had on jazz styles. This is one of the music history component courses required for all Advanced Theory students.

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The Beatles

Open, Component—Spring

See course description under Lectures and Seminars.

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Transformation Sounds! Ethnomusicology and Social Change

Open, Component—Fall

See course description under Lectures and Seminars.

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Ecomusicology: Music, Activism, and Climate Change

Open, Component—Spring

See course description under Lectures and Seminars.

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Music and Sound for Film

Open, Component—Spring

See course description under Lectures and Seminars.

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Music Technology Courses: Studio for Electronic Music and Experimental Sound

EMS I: Introduction to Electronic Music and Music Technology

Component—

The Sarah Lawrence Electronic Music Studio is a state-of-the art facility dedicated to the instruction and development of electronic music composition. The studio contains the latest in digital audio hardware and software for synthesis, recording, and signal processing, along with a full complement of vintage analog synthesizers and tape machines. Beginning students will start with an introduction to the equipment, basic acoustics, and principles of studio recording; signal processing; and a historical overview of the medium. Once students have acquired a certain level of proficiency with the equipment and material—usually by the second semester—the focus will be on preparing compositions that will be heard in concerts of electronic music, student composers’ concerts, music workshops, and open concerts.

Faculty

EMS II: Recording, Mixing, and Mastering Electronic Music

Component—

This course will focus on creating electronic music, primarily using software-based digital audio workstations. Materials covered will include MIDI, ProTools, Digital Performer, Logic, Reason, Ableton Live, MaxMsp, Traction, and elements of Sibelius and Finale (as connected to media scoring). Class assignments will focus on composing individual works and/or creating music and designing sound for various media, such as film, dance, and interactive performance art. Students in this course may also choose to evolve collaborative projects with students from those other areas. Projects will be presented in class for discussion and critique.

Faculty

EMS III: Studio Composition and Music Technology

Component—

Students work on individual projects involving aspects of music technology, including but not limited to works for electro-acoustic instruments (live and/or prerecorded), works involving interactive performance media, laptop ensembles, Disklavier, and improvised or through-composed works. Projects will be presented in class for discussion and critique.

Faculty

Other Classes and Ensembles

Awareness Through Movement™

Component—Fall

This course will offer a selection from the thousands of Awareness Through Movement lessons developed by Moshe Feldenkrais. The lessons consist of verbal instructions for carefully-designed movement sequences. The movements allow students to better sense and feel themselves and thereby develop new and improved organizational patterns. The gentle movements are done in comfortable positions (lying, sitting, and standing), and many performing artists have found them to be hugely helpful in developing greater ease, reducing unwanted tension and performance anxiety, and preventing injuries. Another benefit is the often increased capacity for learning and, perhaps most importantly, an increased enjoyment of performing and the creative process.

Faculty

Baroque Ensemble

Component—Spring

This performance ensemble focuses on music from roughly 1600 to 1750 and is open to both instrumentalists and singers. Using modern instruments, we will explore the rich and diverse musical world of the Baroque. Regular coachings will be supported by sessions exploring a variety of performance practice issues, such as ornamentation, notational conventions, continuo playing, and editions.

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Acoustic Beatles

Component—Fall

For singers and/or guitarists, this ensemble will take on any Beatles songs that work with acoustic guitar. Singers and guitarists at any level are welcome, as are singers who play some guitar and guitarists who sing.

Faculty

Folk and Folk Rock

Component—Spring

This ensemble will cover the US folk-rock music movement from Guthrie through the hippies, including union songs and protest songs. Singers and guitarists at any level are welcome, as are singers who play some guitar and guitarists who sing. 

Faculty

Chamber Music

Component—

Various chamber groups—from quartets or quintets to violin and piano duos—are formed each year, depending on the number and variety of qualified instrumentalists who apply. There are weekly coaching sessions. At the end of the semester, groups will have an opportunity to perform in a chamber music concert.

Faculty

Experimental Music Improvisation

Component—

This is an experimental performing ensemble that explores a variety of musical styles and techniques, including free improvisation, improvisational conducting, and various other chance-based methods. The ensemble is open to all instruments (acoustic and electric), voice, electronic synthesizers, and laptop computers. Students must be able to demonstrate a level of proficiency on their chosen instrument. Composer-performers, dancers, and actors are also welcome. Performance opportunities will include concerts and collaboration with other programs, such as dance, theatre, film, and performance art, as well as community outreach.

Faculty

Guitar Ensemble

Component—

This class offers informal performance opportunities on a weekly basis as a way of exploring guitar solo, duo, and ensemble repertoire. The course will seek to improve sight-reading abilities and foster a thorough knowledge of the guitar literature. Recommended for students interested in classical guitar.

Faculty

Senior Recital

Component—Spring

This component offers students the opportunity to share the results of their sustained work in performance study with the broader College community. During the semester of their recital, students will receive additional coaching by their principal teachers.

Performance Ensembles and Classes

The Blues Ensemble

Component—

This performance ensemble is geared toward learning and performing various traditional, as well as hybrid, styles of blues music. The blues, like jazz, is a purely American art form. Students will learn and investigate Delta Blues—performing songs by Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Skip James, and others—as well as Texas Country Blues, by originators such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Chicago Blues, beginning with Big Bill Broonzy and moving up through Howlin’ Wolf and Buddy Guy. Students will also learn songs and stylings by Muddy Waters, Albert King, and B. B. King and learn how they influenced modern blues men, such as Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughn, and pioneer rockers, such as Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix.

Faculty

Jazz Colloquium

Component—

This ensemble will meet weekly to rehearse and perform a wide variety of modern jazz music and other related styles. Repertoire in the past has included works by composers Thelonius Monk, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Herbie Hancock, as well as some rock, Motown, and blues. All instruments are welcome.

Faculty

Jazz Performance and Improvisation Workshop

Component—

This class is intended for all instrumentalists and will provide a “hands-on” study of topics relating to the performance of jazz music. The class will meet as an ensemble, but the focus will not be on rehearsing repertoire and giving concerts. Instead, students will focus on improving jazz playing by applying the topic at hand directly to instruments—and immediate feedback on the performance will be given. The workshop environment will allow students to experiment with new techniques as they develop their sound. Topics include jazz chord/scale theory; extensions of traditional tonal harmony; altered chords; modes; scales; improvising on chord changes; analyzing a chord progression or tune; analysis of form; performance and style study, including swing, Latin, jazz-rock, and ballade styles; and ensemble technique. The format can be adapted to varying instrumentation and levels of proficiency.

Faculty

Jazz Vocal Ensemble

Component—

No longer do vocalists need to share valuable time with those wanting to focus primarily on instrumental jazz and vice versa. This ensemble will be dedicated to providing a performance-oriented environment for the aspiring jazz vocalist. We will mostly concentrate on picking material from the standard jazz repertoire. Vocalists will get an opportunity to work on arrangements, interpretation, delivery, phrasing, and intonation in a realistic situation with a live rhythm section and soloists. Vocalists will learn how to work with, give direction to, and get what they need from the rhythm section. The course will provide an environment for vocalists to learn to hear forms and changes and also to work on vocal improvisation, if they so choose. This will not only give students an opportunity to work on singing solo or lead vocals but also to work with other vocalists in singing backup or harmony vocals for and with each other. And it will serve as a great opportunity for instrumentalists to learn the true art of accompanying the jazz vocalist, which will prove to be a valuable experience in preparing for a career as a professional musician.

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Required Concert Attendance/Music Tuesdays Component

Music Tuesdays

Component standalone—

The music faculty wants students to have access to a variety of musical experiences; therefore, all Music Thirds are required to attend all Music Tuesday events and three music department-sponsored concerts on campus per semester, including concerts (the required number varies from semester to semester) presented by music faculty and outside professionals that are part of the Concert Series. Music Tuesdays consist of various programs, including student/faculty town meetings, concert presentations, guest artists’ lectures and performances, master classes, and collaborations with other departments and performing-arts programs. Meetings, which take place in Reisinger Concert Hall on selected Tuesdays from 1:30-3:00 p.m., are open to the community. The schedule will be announced each semester.

Theory and Composition Program

Theory I: Materials of Music

Component—

In this course, we will study elements of music, such as pitch, rhythm, intensity, and timbre. We will see how they combine in various musical structures and how these structures communicate. Studies will include notation and ear training, as well as theoretical exercises, rudimentary analyses, and the study of repertoire from various eras of Western music.

Faculty

Theory II: Basic Tonal Theory and Composition

Component—

As a skill-building course in the language of tonal music, this course covers diatonic harmony and voice leading, elementary counterpoint, and simple forms. Students will develop an understanding through part writing, analysis, composition, and aural skills.

Faculty

Vocal Studies

Chamber Choir/Chorus

Component—

Early madrigals and motets and contemporary works especially suited to a small number of voices will form the body of this group’s repertoire. The ensemble will perform winter and spring concerts. Chamber Choir meets twice a week.

Jazz Vocal Seminar

Component—Year

This course is an exploration of the relationship of melody, harmony, rhythm, text, and style and how those elements can be combined and manipulated to create meaning and beauty. A significant level of vocal development will be expected and required.

Faculty

Solo and Ensemble Singing

Component—

This class will be an exploration of small-group choral pieces, with featured solo parts mixed in. These choral pieces will focus on contemporary works by composers Eric Whitacre, James Eakin, and Gwyneth Walker, among others—and (depending on time allowances) will also include musical masterpieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, John Rutter, and Benjamin Britten. We will vocalize, divide into four-part sections (S, A, T, B), work on each part separately, then come together to make music. The ability to read music is a plus but not necessary.

Faculty

World Music Ensembles

Solkattu

Component—Fall

Solkattu is the practice of spoken rhythmic syllables that constitute the rhythmic basis of many forms of Indian music. In this ensemble, students will develop individualized rhythmic precision and confidence, as well as group solidarity, through the practiced coordination of reciting patterns of syllables while clapping an independent rhythmic cycle. Using the voice and hands, students will internalize rhythmic relationships through physical embodiment by moving to progressively more complex rhythmic patterns and rhythmic cycles. Students with no musical background and musicians specializing in any instrument will benefit from the ensemble—all are welcome. No prior experience in music is necessary.

Faculty

West African Percussion Ensemble Faso Foli

Component—Spring

Faso Foli is the name of our West African performance ensemble. Faso foli is a Malinke phrase that translates loosely as “playing to my father’s home.” In this class, we will develop the ability to play expressive melodies and intricate polyrhythms in a group context, as we recreate the celebrated musical legacy of the West African Mandé Empire. These traditions have been kept alive and vital through creative interpretation and innovation in Africa, the United States, and other parts of the world. Correspondingly, our repertoire will reflect a wide range of expressive practices, both ancient in origin and dynamic in contemporary performance. The instruments we play—balafons, dun dun drums, and djembe hand drums—were constructed for the College in 2006, handcrafted by master builders in Guinea. Relevant instrumental techniques will be taught in the class, and no previous experience with African musical practice is assumed. Any interested student may join.

Faculty

African Classics

Component—

The worldwide phenomenon of Afropop has earned its place in the history of great musical movements. This performance ensemble is dedicated to exploring contemporary African musical styles such as Afrobeat, highlife, Mandé jazz, and more. Many vibrant and innovative bands emerged during the era of explosive creative growth that characterized postcolonial Africa. Our repertoire will feature the music of several prominent groups and musicians who were essential to this period, and we will perform tightly structured arrangements of some of their most influential and popular pieces. There will be some opportunities for genre-appropriate improvisation and soloing. A wide range of instruments will be welcome, including strings, horns, guitars, keyboards, drums, and various other percussion instruments. Basic facility on one’s musical instrument is expected, but prior experience with African musical aesthetics is neither assumed nor required.

Faculty

Understanding Experience: Phenomenological Approaches in Anthropology

Open, Seminar—Fall

How does a chronic illness affect a person’s orientation to the everyday? What are the social and political forces that underpin life in a homeless shelter? What is the experiential world of a deaf person, a musician, a refugee, or a child at play? In an effort to answer these and like-minded questions, anthropologists in recent years have become increasingly interested in developing phenomenological accounts of particular “lifeworlds” in order to understand—and convey to others—the nuances and underpinnings of such worlds in terms that more orthodox social or symbolic analyses cannot achieve. In this context, phenomenology entails an analytic method that works to understand and describe in words phenomena as they appear to the consciousnesses of certain peoples. Phenomenology, put simply, is the study of experience. The phenomena most often in question for anthropologists include the workings of time, perception, emotions, selfhood, language, bodies, suffering, and morality as they take form in particular lives within the context of any number of social, linguistic, and political forces. In this course, we will explore phenomenological approaches in anthropology by reading and discussing some of the most significant efforts along these lines. Each student will also try her or his hand at developing a phenomenological account of a specific subjective or intersubjective lifeworld through a combination of interviewing, participant observation research, and ethnographic writing.

Faculty

First-Year Studies in Performing Arts: A Multidisciplinary Collective/Portal in Practice and Theory

FYS—Year

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. —Arundhati Roy, The Pandemic is a Portal (April 2020)

Acclaimed feminist author, educator, and revolutionary thinker bell hooks wrote, “Art constitutes one of the rare locations where acts of transcendence can take place and have a wide-ranging transformative impact” (Art on My Mind: Visual Politics, 1999). Historian Howard Zinn echoes this, saying, “…the artist transcends the immediate. Transcends the here and now. Transcends the madness of the world. Transcends terrorism and war. The artist thinks, acts, performs music, and writes outside the framework that society has created…” (Artists in Times of War, 2003). The tumultuous period that we are currently experiencing, with unprecedented challenges in social, political, and environmental realms, sets the stage for us as artists to contribute the vital elements of human civilization that are our domain. Collective effort is at the heart of performing arts; thus, our contributions rely upon our abilities to connect and coordinate. Ultimately, the power of any collective relies upon the vibrance of each member. From Broadway, opera, and concert stages to experimental performance venues and political demonstrations, collective actions by artists have played a part in moving society forward. We will study works by visionary artists who have been inspired to venture across disciplines to grapple with the challenges of their times (including Anna Deveare Smith, Tony Kushner, Janelle Monet, Bill T. Jones, Meredith Monk) and will join forces, drawing upon the unique history of each participant to construct an expansive portal for individual and collaborative inquiry. This is a course for students with an established practice and experience in theatre, music, and/or dance who wish to continue advancing skills in their established disciplines. Students will take additional multiple components in dance, music, or theatre to comprise a Third program in one of these performing arts. Students will be guided through a selection of components in their discipline during registration and will attend discipline-specific information sessions as part of the registration process. 

  • Theatre students will take two or three additional theatre components, along with biweekly Theatre Meetings and periodic Think Tank meetings, and will fulfill Tech Credit requirements. Students are welcome to audition for theatre projects each semester.
  • Music students will take three or four additional components, including individual lessons, Music Theory, Music History, Music Technology (optional), and Performance Ensemble (by audition), along with concert attendance and periodic Music Tuesday meetings. Students are welcome to join more than one performance ensemble (recommended for students who have had previous training in music, such as instrumental lessons, beginning theory, etc.).
  • Dance students will take three or four additional components, including movement practice classes and creative practice, along with periodic Dance Meetings, and will fulfill the Dance Tech Production requirements. Students are welcome to audition for dance program performances each semester.

FYS in Performing Arts is a yearlong course comprised of a weekly component class and weekly individual donning conferences. Serving as a home base for students, it will be a core class from which explorations into various disciplines arise. Class meetings will incorporate both practice-based and theoretically-based activities, experimenting with interdisciplinary possibilities through collaborative exercises, reflection, discussion, reading, and writing. Class readings will be selected texts from within theatre, music, and dance, as well as fields beyond the arts. Conferences in the spring semester may be weekly or biweekly, according to students’ needs and progress. Over the course of the year, we will conceptualize and create a collective multidisciplinary performance work to be shown informally at the end of the spring semester, with elements contributed by each member of the class/collective. Independent research inquiries will be pursued throughout the year, supported by individual conferences and periodic working groups in class, culminating in the writing, revising, and presentation of a research paper in the spring semester. The aim of this course is to support the development of skills necessary for expansive artistic collaboration and sustained academic research. Supported by the immersive opportunities of SLC’s theatre, music, and dance programs, with emphasis on live performance, students in this course will acquire new abilities and critical insights through experiential and theoretical studies. FYS in Performing Arts is intended for students who have both a strong interest in theatre, music, and/or dance and a desire to discover more about the interconnectedness of the disciplines.

Faculty

Movement Studio Practice

Component—Year

In these classes, emphasis will be on the steady development of movement skills, energy use, strength, and articulation relevant to the technical and aesthetic orientations of each teacher. At all levels, attention will be given to sharpening each student’s awareness of time and energy and to training rhythmically, precisely, and in accordance with sound anatomical principles. Degrees of complexity in movement patterns will vary within the leveled class structure. All students will investigate sensory experience and the various demands of performance.

Faculty

Dance Movement Fundamentals

Component—Year

Movement and dancing are definitive signs of life! In every environment and at every level of existence, from single-cell organisms to entire populations, dancing is innate to living beings. The objective here is to awaken/reawaken students’ connection to movement as an elemental mode of human experience and learning. Students are introduced to some basic principles of dancing, as well as to strategies for preparing for dancing. Building fundamental skills for a wide range of movement studies, the focus is centered on learning movement and refining individual, partnered, and group performance in a variety of patterns and styles. Basic anatomical information is used to facilitate an understanding of dynamic alignment and movement potentials. Challenges in coordination, rhythm, range, and dynamic quality are systematically engaged, allowing students to gain strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, musicality, and awareness in the dance setting. While the primary emphasis is placed on learning structured material, improvisation and composition are incorporated to support students’ growing engagement with dance as an art form. No prior experience in dance is required.

Faculty

Ballet

Component—Year

Ballet students at all levels will be guided toward creative and expressive freedom in their dancing, enhancing the qualities of ease, grace, musicality, and symmetry that define this form. We will explore alignment, with an emphasis on anatomical principles; we will cultivate awareness of how to enlist the appropriate neuromuscular effort for efficient movement; and we will coordinate all aspects of body, mind, and spirit, integrating them harmoniously.

Faculty

West African Dance

Component—

This yearlong course will use physical embodiment as a mode of learning about and understanding African diasporic cultures. In addition to physical practice, master classes led by artists and teachers regarded as masters in the field of African diasporic dance and music, along with supplementary study materials, will be used to explore the breadth, diversity, history, and technique of dances derivative of the Africa diaspora. Afro Haitian, West African, Orisha dances (Lucumi, Afro Cuban), and social dance are some genres that will be explored. Participation in year-end showings will provide students with the opportunity to apply studies in a performative context.

Faculty

Hip-Hop

Component—

In this open-level course, teaching and facilitating the practice of hip-hop/urban dance technique and performance, the class will examine the theory, technique, and vocabulary of hip-hop dance. The course will facilitate the student’s development and ability to execute and perform hip-hop/urban dance steps.

Faculty

Yoga

Component—

This yoga class is designed with the interests of dancers and theatre students in mind. Various categories of postures will be practiced, with attention to alignment, breath awareness, strength, and flexibility. The physical practice includes seated and standing poses, twists, forward bends and backbends, traditional yogic breathing practices, and short meditations. Emphasis is placed on mindfulness and presence. This approach allows the student to gain tools for reducing stress and addressing unsupportive habits to carry into other aspects of their lives. Attention will be given to the chakra system as a means and metaphor for postural, movement, and character choices. The instructor has a background in dance and object theatre, in addition to various somatically-based practices that she draws upon for designing the classes to meet the individual needs of the class members.

Faculty

Live Time-Based Art

Component—Year

In this class, graduates and upper-class undergraduates with a special interest and experience in the creation of time-based artworks that include live performance will design and direct individual projects. Students and faculty will meet weekly to view works-in-progress and discuss relevant artistic and practical problems, both in class on Tuesday evenings and in conferences taking place on Thursday afternoons. Attributes of the work across multiple disciplines of artistic endeavor will be discussed as integral and interdependent elements in the work. Participation in mentored, critical-response feedback sessions with your peers is a key aspect of the course. The engagement with the medium of time in live performance, the constraints of presentation of the works both in works-in-progress and in a shared program of events, and the need to respect the classroom and presentation space of the dance studio will be the constraints imposed on the students’ artistic proposals. Students working within any number of live performance traditions are as welcome in this course as those seeking to transgress orthodox conventions. While all of the works will engage in some way with embodied action, student proposals need not fall neatly into a traditional notion of what constitutes dance. The cultivation of open discourse across traditional disciplinary artistic boundaries, both in the process of developing the works and in the context of presentation to the public, is a central goal of the course. The faculty members leading this course have roots in dance practice but also have practiced expansive definitions of dance within their own creative work. This course will culminate in performances of the works toward the end of the semester in a shared program with all enrolled students and within the context of winter and spring time-based art events. Performances of the works will take place in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Theatre or elsewhere on campus in the case of site-specific work.

Faculty

Performance Project

Component—Year

Performance Project is a component where a visiting artist or company is invited to create a work with students or to set an existing piece of choreography. The works are performed for the College community at the end of the semester.

Faculty

Anatomy

Component—Year

How is it possible for us to move in the countless ways that we do? Learn to develop your X-ray vision of human beings in motion through functional anatomical study that combines movement practice, drawing, lecture, and problem solving. In this course, movement is a powerful vehicle for experiencing, in detail, our profoundly adaptable musculoskeletal anatomy. We will learn Irene Dowd’s Spirals—a comprehensive warm-up/cool-down for dancing that coordinates all joints and muscles through their fullest range of motion, facilitating study of the entire musculoskeletal system. In addition to movement practice, drawings are made as part of each week’s lecture (drawing materials provided); three short assignments will be submitted each semester. Insights and skills developed in this course can provide tremendous inspiration in the process of movement invention and composition.

Faculty

Anatomy Research Seminar

Component—Year

This is an opportunity for students who have completed a full year of anatomy study in the SLC dance program to pursue functional anatomy studies in greater depth. In open consultation with the instructor during class meetings, each student engages in independent research, developing one or more lines of inquiry that utilize functional anatomy perspectives and texts as an organizing framework. Research topics in recent years have included investigation of micropolitics in established dance training techniques, examining connections between movement and emotion, exploring implications of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, motor and experiential learning, development of a unique warm-up sequence to address specific individual technical issues, inquiry into kinetic experience and its linguistic expression, detailed study of knee-joint anatomy, and study of kinematics and rehabilitation in knee injury. The class meets biweekly to discuss progress, questions, and methods for reporting, writing, and presenting research—alternating with weekly studio/practice sessions for individual and/or group research consultations.

Faculty

Workshop on Sustainability Solutions at Sarah Lawrence College

Sophomore and Above, Large seminar—Year

As we want to engage in individual and collective efforts toward sustainable and climate-change mitigating solutions, this workshop offers students the opportunity to explore the multiple ways in which “sustainability” can be fostered and developed at an institution like Sarah Lawrence College. Meeting once a week, students will work in small groups on a variety of projects and produce research and educational material that can lead to concrete and actionable proposals for the College and our community to consider. Students will determine their own areas of interest and research, from energy and water usage monitoring to composting solutions, recycling/reusing and consumer sobriety, landscaping choices, pollinators and natural diversity, food growing, natural and human history of the land, and/or community collaborations, to name a few. As part of their project effort, students will engage with college administrators who are actively working toward sustainable solutions, as well as with student, staff and faculty groups such as the Warren Green vegetable garden, the Sarah Lawrence Interdisciplinary Collective on the Environment (SLICE), and the Sustainability Committee. We will also explore the possibility of writing grants in coordination with other actors at the college. This workshop will meet for 1.5 hours once a week; it is offered as pass/fail, based on both attendance and a group project that will mostly be developed during our meeting time. All skills and areas of expertise are welcome, from environmental science to writing and visual and studio arts, but any interest in issues of sustainability and a strong sense of dedication will suffice!

Faculty

Documentary Filmmaking: The Personal Is Political I

Open, Seminar—Fall

In this documentary course, students will locate themselves in larger movements for change in order to produce a three-to-five minute film. The projects may be grounded in portraiture, historically informed, and even the experimental and will exist through a lens of social change and personal experience. Students will work in teams to produce their films, building trust among each other as collaborators and practicing filmmaking as essentially interdependent creative work. Students will be required to make their work public and create social-engagement strategies for their final films. Given these unprecedented times—as we are presented with new opportunities to shift our understanding of self, community, and the roles that we can play in pursuing a just future—this course is for those who are committed to using filmmaking as a tool for change. This semester-long collaboration is equal parts media creation, screenings, and an understanding of the power of artists in movements for justice.

Faculty

Music and Sound for Film

Open, Seminar—Spring

This class will explore the ways in which music and sound serve the dramatic intent of a film. As coinhabitants of the aural spectrum, a film’s score and sound design are increasingly called upon to interact. Working in one of these areas now implies an understanding of the other. This class will cover: spotting music/sound with a director, choosing musical themes that correspond to the dramatic needs of a film, using sound design to highlight facets of the world and its characters, conceptualizing the sound world of a film, and designing the music and sound so that they occupy different but complementary spaces. The marriage of sound and music has deep roots in the history of cinema, and special attention will be paid to great works of the past. There will be weekly listening assignments to survey the history of film music and to explore current trends. Technical topics covered will include: intro to ProTools and an overview of basic mixing; concepts in music editing; use of effects such as compression, eq, reverb, and filters; file organization, management, and workflow. Students will work on sound design and/or scoring concepts using video clips that I provide or, better yet, using works from their fellow students in the film department. Music students will be asked to compose cues, and nonmusic film students will be asked to sound design scenes—with the goals being technical and expressive clarity.

Faculty

Beginning Italian: Viaggio in Italia

Open, Seminar—Year

This course, for students with no previous knowledge of Italian, aims at giving the student a complete foundation in the Italian language with particular attention to oral and written communication and all aspects of Italian culture. The course will be conducted in Italian after the first month and will involve the study of all basic structures of the language—phonological, grammatical, and syntactical—with practice in conversation, reading, composition, and translation. In addition to material covering basic Italian grammar, students will be exposed to fiction, poetry, songs, articles, recipe books, and films. Group conferences (held once a week) aim at enriching the students’ knowledge of Italian culture and developing their ability to communicate. This will be achieved by readings that deal with current events and topics relative to today’s Italian culture. Activities in pairs or groups, along with short written assignments, will be part of the group conference. In addition to class and group conferences, the course has a conversation component in regular workshops with the language assistant. Conversation classes are held twice a week (in small groups) and will center on the concept of viaggio in Italia: a journey through the regions of Italy through cuisine, cinema, art, opera, and dialects. The Italian program organizes trips to the Metropolitan Opera and relevant exhibits in New York City, as well as offering the possibility of experiencing Italian cuisine firsthand as a group. The course is for a full year, by the end of which students will attain a basic competence in all aspects of the language.

Faculty

Intermediate Italian: Modern Italian Culture and Literature

Intermediate, Seminar—Year

This course aims at improving and perfecting the students’ speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills, as well as their knowledge of Italy’s contemporary culture and literature. In order to acquire the necessary knowledge of Italian grammar, idiomatic expressions, and vocabulary, a review of all grammar will be carried out throughout the year. As an introduction to modern Italian culture and literature, students will be introduced to a selection of short stories, poems, and passages from novels, as well as specific newspaper articles, music, and films in the original language. Some of the literary works will include selections from Umberto Eco, Italo Calvino, Natalia Ginzburg, Gianni Rodari, Marcello D’Orta, Clara Sereni, Dino Buzzati, Stefano Benni, Antonio Tabucchi, Alberto Moravia, Achille Campanile, and Elena Ferrante. In order to address the students’ writing skills, written compositions will be required as an integral part of the course. All material is accessible on MySLC. Conferences are held on a biweekly basis; topics might include the study of a particular author, literary text, film, or any other aspect of Italian society and culture that might be of interest to the student. Conversation classes (in small groups) will be held twice a week with the language assistant, during which students will have the opportunity to reinforce what they have learned in class and hone their ability to communicate in Italian. When appropriate, students will be directed to specific internship opportunities in the New York City area, centered on Italian language and culture.

Faculty

First-Year Studies: Text and Theatre

FYS—Year

This course explores the relation between the play as written text and the play as a staged event. More than any other literary form, drama depends upon a specific place and time—a theatre and its audience—for its realization. The words of a play are the fossils of a cultural experience; they provide the decipherable means by which we can reconstruct approximations of the living past. With this goal in mind, we will read and examine texts from Ancient Greece to contemporary New York (with many stops in between) in an attempt to understand the range of dramatic possibility and the human challenge of making theatre. This course will have weekly conferences for the first six weeks and biweekly conferences thereafter.

Faculty

The Poetry of Earth: Imagination and Environment in English Renaissance Poetry

Open, Small Lecture—Spring

One of John Keats’s sonnets begins, “The poetry of earth is never dead.” This interactive small lecture will step back from Keats—to the writing of several of his great predecessors in the English Renaissance—to reflect on how imagination shaped environment and how environment shaped imagination in the early modern period. Late 16th- and 17th-century was a time of transition between traditional, feudal society (with its hierarchical ideas of order, of humanity, and of nature) and emerging modernity (with its secularizing humanism, its centralization of political and economic power, its development of increasingly dense and complex urban centers, and its commitments to the study and potential mastery of nature through empirical science). With early modernity came all of the challenges to natural environment and its resources with which we are so familiar and by which we are challenged: urban sprawl and environmental degradation, privatization of land, air and water pollution, deforestation and exhaustion of other resources, and diminishment of local species populations. We will study how several major writers register and responded to these tensions and these changes in what we might call their environmental vision, their imagination of nature as wilderness, the "other” to civilization and its values; as chaos and threat; as liminal space of transformation; as pastoral retreat; and as cultivatable human habitation and home. Class reading will include two early plays of Shakespeare—A Midsummer Night's Dream and As You LIke It; Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene; John Milton's environmental epic, Paradise Lost, and poems leading up to it; Andrew Marvell's lyric poetry; and Margaret Cavendish's The Blazing World. Conference work will entail more extended work in any of these writers and literary modes and will provide opportunities to explore other writers of the early modern period who are engaged in theorizing and imagining nature—including studies in history, philosophy, geography, politics, or theory.

Faculty

Metaphysical Poetry

Open, Seminar—Fall

The best lyric poets of 17th-century England have been loosely characterized as “metaphysical poets” because of their “wit”; their intellectual range, rigor, and inventiveness; the versatility and trickery of their poetic strategies; and their remarkable fusion of thought and passion. Masters of paradox, these poets stage and analyze their expressive intensities with technical precision. They eroticize religious devotion and sanctify bodily desire with fearless and searching bravado. They stretch their linguistic tightropes across a historical arena of tremendous political and religious turmoil, in response to which they forge what some critics consider to be early evidences of the ironic self-consciousness of modernity, poetic dramatizations of the Cartesian ego. We will test these claims, as well as the sufficiency of the category “metaphysical,” against the evidence of the poems themselves. We will closely read significant poems of Donne, Jonson, Herbert, Phillips, Herrick, Vaughan, Crashaw, Milton, Marvell, and Behn. We will attend primarily to how they work as poems, looking at argument, structure, diction, syntax, tone, image, and figure. We will also consider their religious, cultural, and psychological implications. Students will prepare three papers based on class readings. Conference work is recommended in correlative topics: the English Bible, Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Shakespearean and Jacobean drama, or influences on and comparisons to Romantic or Modern English poetry.

Faculty

Writing the Blue Note: Jazz, Literature, Art, and Diasporic Identity

Open, Seminar—Fall

Sometimes, poems sing, paintings swing, and novels bop. A line of poetry can achieve the effect of a jazz melody through assonance and alliteration. A painting can, like a trumpet, blow hot and cold using alternating color fields. And a prose phrase can beat with syncopation, playing with stressed syllables and sibilance like the rhythm section of a bebop group. Jazz musicians have long taken inspiration from literature; writers and painters have, likewise, borrowed strategies from jazz and blues music. Indeed, this borrowing and exchange is so prevalent that Brent Hayes Edwards writes: “Whether it is composers finding formal inspiration in verse or a poet invoking the sound of music, hearing across media is the source of innovation in black art.” In this course, we will learn to perform the practice of “hearing across media” by examining the jazz and blues aesthetic that permeates the art of various African and Afro-descended artists. Immersing ourselves in work from Africa and the diaspora, students will analyze literature, visual art, and music to trace the transfer of these aesthetic strategies across media and genres and to understand how these artists, finding connectivity beyond national borders through reference to American jazz, utilize this music to figure improvisation, multivocality, non-fixity, and subversion as central to diasporic identity. Inspired by the concept of the blue note—the microtonal flattening of certain pitches on a scale, a note in between notes, disruptive in its “inbetweenness”—we will investigate how these artists practice a liberating aesthetic, calling on the subversive qualities of jazz to create space for challenging convention, creating and recreating the self, and claiming a belonging to the diaspora. We will examine how diasporic work becomes a social and cultural performance, how vibrating with the blue note—a sonic metonymy for the experience of dispersal, exile, and longing of slaves in the New World and their descendants—this art mourns while also celebrating the freeing potential of artistic techniques that deviate playfully from the conventional structures of their media. Following the Glissantian notion of non-fixity and Paul Gilroy’s notion of the transnational Black Atlantic, we will trace the aesthetic and cultural practice of “hearing across media” in text (novels, plays, and poetry), music (jazz and blues), and visual art (painting) across several sites: Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, the United States, and Canada. Classes will be organized according to a “call-and-response” structure; that is, we will traverse geography and time period according to how concepts find their melody responded to, taken up, or revised in different times and places. Primary texts will be supported by scholarly and theoretical readings.

Faculty

First-Year Studies in Performing Arts: A Multidisciplinary Collective/Portal in Practice and Theory

FYS—Year

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. —Arundhati Roy, The Pandemic is a Portal (April 2020)

Acclaimed feminist author, educator, and revolutionary thinker, bell hooks wrote, “Art constitutes one of the rare locations where acts of transcendence can take place and have a wide-ranging transformative impact” (from Art on My Mind: Visual Politics, 1999). Historian Howard Zinn echoes this, saying, “…the artist transcends the immediate. Transcends the here and now. Transcends the madness of the world. Transcends terrorism and war. The artist thinks, acts, performs music, and writes outside the framework that society has created…” (from Artists in Times of War, 2003). The tumultuous period that we are currently experiencing, with unprecedented challenges in social, political, and environmental realms, sets the stage for us as artists to contribute the vital elements of human civilization that are our domain. Collective effort is at the heart of performing arts; thus, our contributions rely upon our abilities to connect and coordinate. Ultimately, the power of any collective relies upon the vibrance of each member. From Broadway, opera, and concert stages to experimental performance venues and political demonstrations, collective actions by artists have played a part in moving society forward. We will study works by visionary artists who have been inspired to venture across disciplines to grapple with the challenges of their times (including Anna Deveare Smith, Tony Kushner, Janelle Monet, Bill T. Jones, Meredith Monk) and will join forces, drawing upon the unique history of each participant to construct an expansive portal for individual and collaborative inquiry. This is a course for students with an established practice and experience in theatre, music, and/or dance who wish to continue advancing skills in their established disciplines. Students will take additional multiple components in dance, music, or theatre to comprise a Third program in one of these performing arts. Students will be guided through a selection of components in their discipline during registration and will attend discipline-specific information sessions as part of the registration process.

  • Theatre students will take two or three additional theatre components, along with biweekly Theatre Meetings and periodic Think Tank meetings, and will fulfill Tech Credit requirements. Students are welcome to audition for theatre projects each semester.
  • Music students will take three or four additional components, including individual lessons, Music Theory, Music History, Music Technology (optional), and Performance Ensemble (by audition), along with concert attendance and periodic Music Tuesday meetings. Students are welcome to join more than one performance ensemble (recommended for students who have had previous training in music, such as instrumental lessons, beginning theory, etc.).
  • Dance students will take three or four additional components, including movement practice classes and creative practice, along with periodic Dance Meetings, and will fulfill the Dance Tech Production requirements. Students are welcome to audition for dance program performances each semester.

FYS in Performing Arts is a yearlong course comprised of a weekly component class and weekly individual donning conferences. Serving as a home base for students, it will be a core class from which explorations into various disciplines arise. Class meetings will incorporate both practice-based and theoretically-based activities, experimenting with interdisciplinary possibilities through collaborative exercises, reflection, discussion, reading, and writing. Class readings will be selected texts from within theatre, music, and dance, as well as fields beyond the arts. Conferences in the spring semester may be weekly or biweekly, according to students’ needs and progress. Over the course of the year, we will conceptualize and create a collective multidisciplinary performance work to be shown informally at the end of the spring semester, with elements contributed by each member of the class/collective. Independent research inquiries will be pursued throughout the year, supported by individual conferences and periodic working groups in class, culminating in the writing, revising, and presentation of a research paper in the spring semester. The aim of this course is to support the development of skills necessary for expansive artistic collaboration and sustained academic research. Supported by the immersive opportunities of SLC’s theatre, music, and dance programs, with emphasis on live performance, students in this course will acquire new abilities and critical insights through experiential and theoretical studies. FYS in Performing Arts is intended for students who have both a strong interest in theatre, music, and/or dance and a desire to discover more about the interconnectedness of the disciplines.

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Senior Studio

Advanced, Seminar—Year

This course is intended for seniors interested in pursuing their own artmaking practice, both more deeply and for a prolonged period of time. Students will maintain their own studio spaces and will be expected to work independently and creatively and to challenge themselves and their peers to explore new ways of thinking and making. The course will incorporate prompts that encourage students to make art across disciplines; it will culminate in a solo gallery exhibition during the spring semester, accompanied by a printed book that documents the exhibition. We will have regular critiques with visiting artists and our faculty, discuss readings and myriad artists, take trips to galleries and artist’s studios, and will participate in the Visual Arts Lecture Series. Your artmaking practice will be supplemented with other aspects of presenting your work—writing an artist statement, interviewing artists, and documenting your art, along with a range of professional-practices workshops. This is an immersive studio course meant for disciplined art students interested in making work in an interdisciplinary environment.

Faculty

Visual and Studio Arts Fundamentals: Materials and Play

Open, Seminar—Fall and Spring

This course serves as an introduction to the fundamental elements, processes, and techniques of the visual arts. It will center on prompts based in foundational areas across the visual arts: drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, sound art, collage, and related mixed-media processes. We’ll discuss these mediums through image presentations, videos, and gallery/museum visits. Students will then make art in those areas, experimenting with new materials, processes, and ideas. Materials will be provided, and you’ll be encouraged to discover through play. Emphasis will focus on developing your creative imagination and building visual literacy. This class culminates in an end-of-semester exhibition.

Faculty

Free-Standing: Intro to Sculptural Forms

Open, Seminar—Spring

This introductory course will explore the fundamentals of sculpture, with an emphasis on how objects function in space and the connections between two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms. This class will focus on the process of building and constructing, working with varied materials and tools. Students will explore various modes of making, binding, building, fastening, and molding using wood, cardboard, plaster, and found materials. Using Richard Serra’s Verb List as inspiration, students will use verbs as a guide for building. Technical instruction will be given in the fundamentals of working with hand tools, as well as other elemental forms of building. This course will include an introduction to the critique process, as well as thematic readings with each assignment. Alongside studio work, the class will look at historical and contemporary artists, such as Jessica Stockholder, Martin Puryear, Judith Scott, Rachel Whiteread, Simone Leigh, Louise Nevelson, Alexander Calder, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Eva Hesse, and Louise Bourgeois, among others.

Faculty

Performance Art

Open, Seminar—Fall

Experiment and explore contemporary performance art. Surveying a range of important artworks and movements, we will review the histories, concepts, and practices of performance art. Born from anti-art, performance art challenges the boundaries of artistic expression through implementing as material the concepts of space, time, and the body. Examples of artists that we will review are John Cage, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, Martha Rosler, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Pope.L, Laurie Anderson, Anne Imhof, Joseph Beuys, Janine Antoni, Suzanne Lacy, Narcissister, Pauline Oliveros, Aki Sasamoto, and Anna Halprin, to name a few. Dialogues introducing performance art are utilized in sculpture, installation art, protest art, social media, video art, happenings, dada, comedy, sound art, graphic notation, scores, collaboration, and movement. Students will be able to relate the form and function of performance art though workshopping ideas, experimentation, improvisation, and movement—thereby developing the ability to confidently perform in any manner of the performance-art genre.

Faculty

Painting Pop

Open, Concept—Fall

In this experimental studio class, we will explore how to digest, appropriate, reconfigure, and rewrite popular media, using mostly, but not limited to, painting, drawing, and collage and open to video, animation, sculpture, and performance. We will examine how artists operate as consumers,  catalysts, motors, and destroyers of TV, film, music, social media, and advertisement. Slideshows, readings, and presentations will exemplify the tight relationship between art and popular media throughout history and contemporary art and will serve as inspiration for students to create their own works. Students will be encouraged to deconstruct their own spectacles of adoration and critique and celebrate images that are impactful to them. We will promote generative group conversations, studio time, experimentation, collaboration, creativity, and improvisation.

Faculty

Writing About the Arts

Open, Seminar—Fall

This class will examine and produce a range of work from the journalistic to the critical, from the practical to the mystical, in the vast landscape of arts writing. We will write liner notes, catalogue copy for gallery shows, short reviews, long reviews, critical essays, and deep and subjective interior meditations on our experience of artists and their work. We will read broadly across time—possibly including, but not limited to, Samuel Johnson on Richard Savage, Wordsworth and Coleridge on themselves, Nietzsche on Wagner, Adorno (via Thomas Mann) on Opus 111, V. S. Naipaul on Flaubert, Amiri Baraka on Billie Holiday, Virginia Woolf on Thomas Hardy, Thomas De Quincey on Shakespeare, James Baldwin on Richard Wright, Glenn Gould on Barbra Streisand, Mark Strand on Edward Hopper, Jean-Luc Godard on Nicholas Ray, Pauline Kael on Sam Peckinpah. Students should feel confident in their familiarity with one or two art forms, broadly understood, and should expect, along with the reading, to write several small and two larger (7-12 pages) pieces. Conference work will comprise research projects on those artists or works of art, or both, that class members, in consultation with the instructor, decide are their special province.

Faculty