I definitely learned a lot over this Fellowship, not only about research and my project topic, but also about myself.
Research was not the biggest part of my project, but it was big enough that my experiences with it changed my perspective. I thought research was going to be a lot easier than it actually was; I thought you would know what you needed and where it was, with the difficult part being just finding it. Even with the limited and already collated type of research I did for my project, finding specific aspects I wanted were quite hard. I now relate research to what prosecutors, detectives, and police do, where they gradually collect a case over a period of time, grinding every lead until it is dry. One example this revelation has stemmed from (in part) has been by my inability to find in my resources the demographics of Reform vs. Orthodox Jews in Pittsburgh (and more particularly, the gradual shift from Orthodoxy to Reform in the 40s to 60s).
My thoughts about creative work also changed. I originally thought composing an album would happen by pure inspiration and creativity, but those feelings are super unreliable. I found that making the album required daily commitment and grinding rather than just waiting for the moment to strike.
What I found most valuable about the Brackenridge experience was the community. It was amazing to be able to work creatively and independently on a project of my choosing, but it wouldn’t have been the same experience if there wasn’t a community of people that were actively following their own projects as well. It was motivational and inspiring to hear not only that these people were working hard on their own projects just like I was, but also that they were just as (if not, more) passionate than I was about their projects. It not only motivated me to do my own project, but also opened me up to a whole other mindset about research projects.
Now that the Brackenridge is done, I plan on finalizing my album and releasing it online somehow. I plan on starting and ending my senior year strong, and along the way use the skills that I honed in the Brackenridge program, like composing and producing (with the abstract goal of releasing more albums). In the far future I plan on becoming a music educator, and taking my knowledge and passion of music and transferring it to the next generation. I’d like to thank the entire Brackenridge community and staff for making this such a wonderful experience for me, and I hope everyone had as good a summer as I did.