A Day in the Life of a Student

Nicholas Brewer, piano

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
Degree Program: Master of Music
Area of Study: Piano Performance

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Ideal career:
I know that I’d like to collaborate with other musicians and artists on visual, musical, and artistic aspect of production. 

Why did you choose to attend Longy?
The people! The big difference between Longy and every other school I considered was that Longy was immediately noticeable as a positive environment. It didn’t seem competitive in a cut-throat type of “I need to be better than all of my peers” kind of way. That seems completely unnecessary and prevents one from developing meaningful musical relationships. It stifles collaboration—and Longy isn’t like that at all.

Now that you’re here, what do you think makes Longy special?
I’d say Longy is special because of the opportunities to collaborate and receive genuine feedback from my peers and faculty. Longy is a positive environment that allows me to develop my artistry.

How would you describe a typical school day?
I normally start my day by getting work done around 8 or 9AM, whether homework or practicing. Then I have class or rehearsal before lunch. After lunch more classes or rehearsals, and then I practice until about 6PM. If by that time I’ve hit 4 hours of rehearsal, I call it quits and head home to go for a run or jump on more homework. 

What is your favorite aspect of the Longy curriculum, and why?
My favorite aspect of the curriculum is the Teaching Artist Program! I like that this school allows you to focus on more than just developing your musical craft. I find that a lot of conservatories have students graduating who don’t know how to promote themselves as artists. I’m more of a practical person, so I’m glad that Longy provides this training. 

Biggest unexpected challenge in your coursework?
I’m not sure that I’ve experienced any yet. Certainly before coming to Longy I had a lot of worries about attending a conservatory for the first time, but it’s a relief to know that I’m not burdened by loads of homework. It’s a lot of work but it’s manageable.

I guess the biggest challenge is to make sure that, between all the work and the practicing, you take care of yourself. Remember to do the things that keep your mind and body healthy—so you can keep practicing like crazy. 

What advice you would give to incoming/prospective students?
For prospective students, be sure to get in touch with a Longy representative, whether that is having the admissions office partner you with a mentor student, or visiting with students and faculty on audition days. This is such a great resource throughout the application process, and so helpful with the decision-making of choosing the right school. For incoming students, don’t worry about forgetting names during orientation!

Favorite nonmusical activity:
I think it’s a tie between hiking and painting.

Stacey Chou, flute

Hometown: New Hyde Park, NY
Instrument: Flute Performance
Degree Program: Graduate Performance Diploma

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Briefly describe your ideal career: Playing in one of the DC military bands, teaching private flute and piano students, hosting occasional solo recitals, and performing with my flute quintet.

Why did you choose to attend Longy?
I had a great audition day experience! I had a (free!) trial lesson with my current teacher, with whom I really clicked. I had an idea of what I wanted to achieve with my Master’s degree, and I felt like he was the one that could take me there. Also, the dean specifically and personally struck up a conversation with me; he remembered my essay and which school I came from, etc. I wasn’t just a number in the system, as opposed to every other school that I auditioned at (minus my own undergrad).

What do you think makes Longy special?
The faculty are all stellar musicians and teachers, and they are very personally invested in their students. They’re all clearly not teaching here solely for the money or the institutional name, but because of the care they extend to their students, their art, and their teaching.

How would you describe a typical school day?
It probably depends on everyone’s individual schedule and preferences… I prefer not to have too many things early in the morning as I am not a morning person. I also prefer to spread things out. For example, I would prefer to have one class a day, versus all of my classes scheduled on two days. Things can be pretty busy among classes, schoolwork, rehearsals/coachings/lessons, meetings, work, and practicing. However, I’m in school full-time, so that’s pretty much expected—it’s all good, ha ha. I like to keep fairly busy.

What is your favorite aspect of the Longy curriculum, and why? The Teaching Artist Program and chamber music! There’s flexibility with the chamber music program here which I really appreciate. I’ve always been able to play the repertoire of my choice, and even with the people I want to work with. The dean considers your requests seriously, which is awesome. You also get the opportunity to work with (and request) teachers as coaches whom you wouldn’t normally get to work with.

Teaching artistry at Longy is such a great vision for students to strive for in this changing musical and social world. I’m glad we are required to look deeply into how we can be most affecting with our art. Without it I might have the ideas, but not the tools or experience, to engage with my audience—and keep them coming back (often with friends)! Organizationally there are a few tweaks needed every year, but that’s how each course improves! I took a course last year and I’m taking it again this year—it’s really nice to see that the administration takes student course evaluation suggestions into consideration.

Biggest unexpected challenge in your coursework?
Fitting in practicing? But that’s pretty expected, haha. It was also a bit of a challenge to get adjusted to finding more ensemble experience on my own and figuring out how to really take care of myself organizationally. You’re not in undergrad anymore; your school isn’t going to nurture you and throw opportunities in your lap. But I think that’s a good and natural part of growing up.

What advice you would give to incoming/prospective students?
For graduate students, I’d definitely concentrate on finding a good teacher, one who you can really connect with and who can see help you to achieve your goals—and offer supportive ideas for your career! For graduate students, more than undergrads (because it’s a shorter program), I think the teacher is more important than the actual institution you attend. So, be in touch with the faculty here! They’re all really responsive and educated individuals.

What’s your favorite non-musical activity?
I love going up to New Hampshire to ski! It’s only about 60-90 min. away!

Link to a video clip of a recent performance: Check out all of my flute quintet’s videos on my own YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/staceychoumusic!!!

Aaron Buede, trombone

Hometown: Hebron, KY
Instrument: Trombone
Degree Program: Master of Music

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Describe your ideal career:
My ideal career would be to perform classical music in a major orchestra—whether domestic or overseas—and branch out from there to land interesting solo projects. Teaching is definitely, in some shape or form, part of my future plan.

Why did you choose to attend Longy?
There are several reasons why I chose Longy; first and foremost for the resources in terms of faculty. My teacher is phenomenal and I am very happy to be studying with him. Another reason is the intimate community; everyone knows everyone. It’s a really great vibe, and you get the sense of studying in a mansion in the middle of Cambridge with your musical family. Also the focus that the faculty has here in making sure every student becomes a mature artist and is able to teach is so special. 

What do you think makes Longy special?
The community and size are a key. Nurturing students to become, not only artists who perform, but teaching artists is so valuable. Another special thing about Longy is the fact that courses like Eurhythmics and Dalcroze are offered—areas that promote body awareness and a healthy approach to making music. 

How would you describe a typical school day?
Get up, go to class, practice, maybe go to class again, head to a rehearsal, drink coffee, hangout in the bistro… I try to allow for a good balance between having plenty of time to practice and plenty of time to focus on my studies.

What’s your favorite aspect of the Longy curriculum?
I like the focus Longy has on chamber music for instrumentalists. The program is very well put together, and we have phenomenal coaches that expect the best from you. I’m being taught to raise my playing and performance to a higher level of artistry.

Biggest unexpected challenge?
Adapting to a different approach to playing trombone with my current teacher is definitely a positive challenge. Learning to play the instrument is taking me out of my comfort zone—it’s allowing me to make improvements and become a more flexible musician.

Is there any advice you would give to incoming/prospective students?
It’s a great atmosphere and a wonderful place to learn to become a constructive musician.

Abigail Gower, collaborative piano

Hometown: Gardiner, ME
Area of study: Collaborative Piano
Degree program: Master of Music

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Briefly describe your ideal career:
After finishing my master’s, I would like to pursue my PhD to work as a professor at a University or College—where I could teach privately and collaborate with an entire faculty of talented and passionate musicians.

Why did you choose to attend Longy?
When I was looking for graduate schools, I knew I wanted to move to the Boston area. The music scene here is thriving, and it’s friendlier and more intimate than NYC. It’s honestly the best place to study on the East Coast. After touring and interviewing at all of the conservatories in Boston, I chose Longy because I really connected with the teachers. They are so passionate about sharing their knowledge, and they care deeply about your growth as a musician in every way—I also loved the atmosphere. Some conservatories are rigid and intimidating, but the first time I walked into Longy it immediately seem friendly, more so than the other conservatories in the area.  

Now that you’re here, what do you think makes Longy special?
There are a few things that make Longy really special, and the collaboration aspect is definitely one of them. I am working with other students constantly. Longy really encourages students to work together in classes, in lessons, and in concerts. Every aspect of my day is making music with talented singers and instrumentalists.

Another thing that makes Longy so special is the Longy Student Association (LSA), of which I am really lucky to be a part. This small group of elected students has a goal of improving the school for those who attend. You can go to them with suggestions, ideas, or problems, and they work so hard to make improvements, and to make things happen. The most wonderful thing that they do, though, is to regularly schedule concerts, inside and outside of school, so that Longy students have tons of opportunities to perform everything that they have been working so hard on. Next semester alone, I think we have at least 9 or 10 concerts planned through the LSA. And that’s in addition to all of the other concerts that are happening for classes—there are just tremendous opportunities here. 

How would you describe a typical school day?
I arrive at school around 9AM and usually have rehearsals scheduled before classes start. I have classes throughout most of the day that are nearly all performance-based. So we get repertoire, then we have private coaching with the teacher on the pieces we’re assigned, or we have class coaching where we work in front of the other students, or we perform the pieces we’ve been working on. After class, I generally schedule more rehearsals with students. I am basically playing music with people all day long.

What is your favorite aspect of the Longy curriculum?
I love working with everyone here so much. Not only is it fun, but it helps to prepare you for the future. 

Biggest unexpected challenge in your coursework?
I knew entering a master’s program at a conservatory would be intense, but I was mildly unprepared for the massive amount of repertoire that must be learned throughout a semester—especially coming from a solo piano undergraduate degree to a collaborative piano program. However, it’s a blessing in disguise because I am shocked every day by how fast I am learning music. It’s truly incredible.

What advice you would give to incoming/prospective students?
Look for a school with teachers and an atmosphere that make you happy—and practice sight reading!

Anything else you’d like to share?
The entirety of Longy, whether it is the teachers, the admissions staff, or the students, is so supportive. Even though graduate school is super stressful at times, you have so many resources—people who understand and support you in whatever you do. 

Tianyi Wang, music composition

Hometown: Changchun, Jilin, China
Instrument/area of study: Music Composition
Degree program: Master of Music

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Ideal Career:
My career goal is to work in the film scoring industry, either as a composer, an orchestrator, or a conductor; at the same, I wish to continue writing concert music in context with social concerns.

Why did you choose to attend Longy?
First, Boston is a fascinating and resourceful city for musicians, especially around Cambridge, where Longy is located. You can find all kinds of talent in every field of study. The great environment and people are reminders of who you are and where you want to be. Second, Longy has awesome faculty. I really enjoy every conversation I have with my studio professor. His vast knowledge of post-tonal composers and composition technicalities always fascinates me. 

Now that you’re here, what do you think makes Longy special?
Longy is a small conservatory, with no dorms or cafeteria. But Longy is in collaboration with El Sistema, a program with a mission to support social change through music. I believe the essence of El Sistema is something that every musician should be aware of, in a society where individuality is valued and collectivism may be neglected. Besides personal development, it is important to conjoin our aptitudes to the environment we live in. To me, music loses its meaning once it is removed from the social context because musicians are human beings and we are, by nature, social animals.

How would you describe a typical school day?
As a master’s student, most classes meet once a week. I try to keep everything organized, with a consistent routine each day. For a typical school day, I prepare my lunch the night before. I usually wake up around 8 in the morning, take the bus to school. Besides having classes and working at the library, I prefer to finish my assignment at school, rather than at home, because I enjoy the vibe at Longy; there is momentum behind every door and inside every classroom. Once I am in that environment, it propels me to work and study with positive energy. I go for a run in the afternoon every other day because physical health is crucial for mental stability. The rest of the time is devoted to composition, usually from the afternoon until midnight.

What is your favorite aspect of the Longy curriculum?
From a composer’s perspective, I like how Longy’s curriculum stresses the fundamentals and music theory. These are the basic tools for musicians regardless of the area of focus. For performers, understanding how composers curate music can greatly deepen your interpretations. For composers, this is the knowledge that enables us to move forward and beyond, and eventually find one’s own voice.

Biggest unexpected challenge in your coursework?
The biggest challenge is probably time management. Sometimes it is hard for me to find a large chunk of time on weekdays to  immerse myself in composing, especially during the day. Also, a lot of assignments are research and analysis-based, which not only takes more time to finish, but requires the use of integrated knowledge to examine the music from various perspectives (texture, form, harmony, density, etc.).

What advice you would give to incoming/prospective students?
Be prepared to devote yourself to music 24/7/365. It is important to love what you do. Also, discover and use all the musical resources around you—go to concerts and embrace as many kinds of music as you can. 

Anything else you’d like to share?
As a musician and a human being, one should always be confidently modest; true modesty originates from both mind and actions. There are always words that you have never heard of, art that strikes you in a way you have never experienced, people that are more knowledgeable than you… Be curious and ask about things you do not understand; you will eventually find happiness and satisfaction through the process of seeking answers. Musicians should contemplate beyond music itself; do not limit yourself.

Check out Tianyi Wang’s work on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/fygogogo/videos

Check out Tianyi Wang’s work on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/tianyi-wang

Showcase: “Arirang,” performed by Concert Choir of Northeast Normal Univ. Conservatory in Changying Symphony Hall, Changchun, Jilin, China.

Hannah Meloy, vocal performance

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Area of study: Vocal Performance
Degree program: Master of Music

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Ideal career: Any career in which I perform art song and opera regularly (and get paid for it).

Why did you choose to attend Longy?
My decision to come to Longy was very last minute and somewhat spontaneous. I had already completed auditions at the four other institutions to which I had applied when my teacher suggested I look at one more school, where a friend of hers had graduated, Longy School of Music. She told me it focused quite a bit on chamber music which she believed would be a good fit for me. I thought, “may as well give it a try,” filled out an application and signed up just in time to audition for the last available date.

Almost immediately after stepping through the doors of Zabriskie House, I knew I belonged. Students and faculty were warm, inviting, and eager to divulge all the ins and outs of the school and its programs. At other conservatories where I had auditioned, there was a tension and an atmosphere of cold competition. Though there will always be some healthy nerves that come along with audition day, the people at Longy made the experience far more humane and inclusive.

Now that you’re here, what do you think makes Longy special?
What I experienced during my first moments inside Zabriskie House still holds true. The people at Longy are the exception in the world of music conservatories. Instead of creating a feeling of cold, competitive exclusivity, the faculty and students opt for a warm, inclusive and supportive environment. Everyone is pulling for one another, which in turn makes better musicians, better collaborators, and ultimately, better people.

How would you describe a typical school day?
As a Master’s student, I often just have one or two classes a day. I’ll get to school around 9:30AM to warm up, get coffee, chat with friends, then head to class. After classes are over I often have time to meet with my assigned pianist for about an hour of studio repertoire rehearsal. I’ll often take a break and get written work done or look at new rep. in the library after rehearsal time. Then, head back to a practice room to sing on my own, and perhaps meet with another assigned collaborator from one of my other repertoire classes. I might take a break to grab a bite to eat (or just skip a meal and get more coffee…) before attending a recital, concert, or masterclass in the evening. On a typical school day, I usually get home between 7PM and 9PM.

What is your favorite aspect of the Longy curriculum, and why?
I love the variety that Longy offers. I know that each semester will bring a new wave of music and information different from the last. There are standard requirements: theory, history, research, studio. However, most of my semester fills up with classes like Schubert Seminar, Spanish Song Repertoire, Yoga for Musicians, Opera Workshop, and so on. These are classes that are challenging, fun, and full of the information that I really want to focus on during my master’s degree.

Biggest unexpected challenge in your coursework?
During my undergraduate years, I worked with a staff accompanist for all my performances and rehearsals. I always knew what to expect from her and she was always coaching me. As a student at Longy, I work with many different collaborators, especially from the piano department. I would say the most unexpected challenge has been learning to adapt quickly to working with vastly different musicians with varying work ethics, personalities, and musical tastes. Yes, this is a challenge, but it is an extremely useful lesson for me to learn. Out in the “real world” of music, I will need to adapt quickly to working with lots of different kinds of musicians.

What advice you would give to incoming/prospective students?
Savor every moment you have at Longy and don’t take it for granted. Don’t get too stressed or overwhelmed. It’s important to remember it’s all for making the best music you can and you can’t do that without having fun!

What’s your favorite non-musical activity?
I like to do yoga, binge on Netflix, and play video games with friends.