Why Music

Nathania Hartojo ’20

I plan on majoring in music because it is something I love, and I want to continue doing what I love. I have played oboe since I was in middle school, and I can't imagine my life without it. Oboe is actually what made me learn to love music. I used to hate playing music before I started playing the oboe, but when I finally picked it up, the oboe changed everything. Though it may be true that I may not be as financially stable as my peers who are pursuing careers in the sciences, in the end I will be happier pursuing my calling.

I love music because music is a part of me, and I enjoy being able to share something so intimate about myself with a community that understands me.

Kateryna Bolonnikova ’21

Music had casually been a major part of my life since childhood, hence up until a certain point I did not experience an urge to give up all of my other interests to pursue it professionally. It was at Pomona, however, that I was exposed to so many academic and pre-professional opportunities, that at some point it became clear to me that I couldn’t pursue all of them while doing justice to the aspiring musician inside.

When one of the summers I pursued a STEM internship and had neither the time nor space to practice my instruments and write music, I felt so bitter about my choices that some days I would commute (by public transport) from Pasadena to Claremont after hours to access the upright pianos at Pomona, often staying into the night and taking the morning train back to my job. Following that experience, with my advisor Professor Alfred Cramer’s encouragement that “a music major is not career suicide,” I made one of my best decisions so far by declaring a music major.

Far from being an easy path, music for me has not been merely about working on musicianship skills and building performance and composition portfolios – but also about practicing being a more thoughtful, mature, and aware human being. My gratitude extends to all of the Music Department faculty who have been patient and well-wishing mentors, as well as to fellow music majors who make this journey fun.

Cherise Michelle ’21 (Concentration: performance, instrument: voice)

My decision to major in music did not take a lot of thought; I have been performing on stages since I was five years old. It was on those various stages that I developed my stage presence, vocal stamina and self-confidence to perform. However, after being rejected from a musical T.V. show audition for “not singing with my own voice,” I realized that I had never seriously attempted to create my own music. Until I was 18 years old, I had become a master at performing other people’s music, instead of my own.

I knew that there was something holding me back—the ability to play an instrument or read music. Growing up, I did not have access to any instruments besides the keyboard the pianist would use at my church. During church choir rehearsals, I would watch as the choir director’s hand glided across the piano and pray for the day when I’d be able to do the same. At school, the students always learned music by ear, so at least I was able to develop my aural skills. Still, I knew that if I just learned how to play an instrument and read music, I would have the keys to the kingdom.

As a junior, mustering up the strength to practice for my 20th Century Music Course (Theory IV) every week, I look back at my past three years at Pomona with so much joy. I was such a tiny, little freshman who barely knew how to distinguish a quarter note from an eighth note. I did not even know that the piano keys have names. Now, I can accurately contribute to scholarly conversations about Bartok, sonata form or the Whole-tone scale. The best part of being a music major is that I now have the tools to compose my own music. With all the knowledge I’ve gained from the four theory courses, Electronic Music Studio and several other courses, I can assure you that I am equipped for whatever music I want to write—whether that be my gospel, soul & blues tunes or my 12-tone compositions. Thanks to the unwavering support of the music faculty here at Pomona, my confidence in my academic musical abilities has increased so much. The music department is preparing me for a life-long love and deep appreciation for music while helping become an outstanding performer.