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  • Writer's pictureJessica Ackerley

Doctorate music student life / summer plans: reflections + adventures

I just finished my second semester of my PhD in composition a few weeks ago and have been meaning to get a blog going on this site for awhile. I'm hoping to post more regularly here in a more informal way to share doctorate music student life things that I have been working on in music, art and education.


This past year I had the privilege of teaching my first university class as a lecturer and I loved it so much. I had the opportunity to work with 30 some non-music major students three days a week teaching an intro to music class. It was such a fulfilling and challenging experience which gave me so much purpose and growth in the past 8 months.


I had students create soundscapes out of field recordings in DAW's and the creativity and different approaches were refreshing to listen to because most of them had no prior music experience. We had discussions about Pauline Oliveros with her deep listening practices and I shared some more contemporary musicians who use field recordings in their music, like Claire Rousay and Patrick Shiroishi. At the end of the semester they composed and produced 2 minute songs, and for many of them it was their first time making music in this setting.


My greatest joy though was holding a weekly 2-hour club which we called "Music Production Club"...it is just a place holder name...we actually covered all sorts of topics each week -- from how to register work with publishing companies to group critiques of music for student seeking feedback on their own music. We talked about our music dreams and what it meant to live a life with music. These meetings were probably some of the deepest, most meaningful conversations I have had about music all school year. Three of these students are releasing EP's this summer and they are fire! from everything that I heard the past four months


As the semester has winded down and come to a close, I am winding up for the summer - I am honored to be a participant for the Arctic Circle Residency based out of Svalbard this June. I will be embarked by ship into the Arctic Circle alongside 30 other artists, educators and scientists through the generous support of Canada Council for the Arts. This will be my first time in Europe so I had to book some shows while I am out there, of course! I'll be traveling with my dear friend and close collaborator, Eli Wallace, from MAW trio. Dates are listed in my performance section. And then to cap it off, I will be returning the the west coast as a composer fellow for three weeks at the Bang on a Can Summer festival as well as performing at the LOUD festival as a guitarist for Marcus Balter's piece "meltDown Upshot."


photo by Anabelle Ellwein


Honolulu jazz

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