The Art of Networking

I was first introduced to my project mentor, Professor Roger Zahab, during the Fall 2019 Majors/Minors Expo. It was there that I learned of his positions as Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Music Department, Director of the University Symphony Orchestra, and Senior Lecturer. Though we spoke for a short amount of time that day, I had already obtained a great wealth of knowledge, and was inspired to continue my musical expedition. As they say, the rest is history! 

Having Professor Zahab as my academic advisor and CAF project mentor is nothing short of an honor – his experience as a conductor, composer, and instrumentalist has been paramount in refining my skills and musical mindset. Earlier on in the process, he encouraged learning on an experiential level through my involvement with the University Symphony Orchestra. After observing a rehearsal (and briefly conducting a piece!), I was invited to perform as a percussionist in “Living Room Music” by John Cage. There, I collaborated with Professor Zahab, in addition to two percussionists – I enjoyed the emphasis on mathematical musicality, as polyrhythmic precision was a pinnacle part of the piece. That being said, working with the ensemble gave me a greater sense of musical responsibility, along with the overarching joy of attending rehearsal. 

Over the past few months, he revolutionized my approach in interacting with a score and an ensemble. Because of his guidance, I have a stronger sense of how to proceed in a way that is cognizant of foundational methodology, while allowing space to pave my own path. I am grateful for his dedication, and I plan to continue collaborating with him as my college career progresses. 

Regarding my professional goals, it is my greatest ambition to pursue a career in academia. Ideally, I would love to teach music and conduct various ensembles. As I have learned, such a prospect takes years of school and experience, a plethora of connections, and an everlasting passion for one’s work. Though I am new to the field, I believe this fellowship establishes a firm foundation through which I can make my dreams a reality. 

I am perpetually starstruck by every professor I have ever taken a class from in the Music Department – I admire their remarkable dedication in culmination with their ability to instill as much joy into their work as possible. I would like to connect with them regarding graduate school, academia, and their particular fields (conducting, musicology, performance, music theory, you name it!). If possible, I’d like to inquire about the potential of an undergraduate teaching position, as it is a dream of mine to bring my knowledge into a classroom setting. Through my fellowship work, I have been granted the privilege of interviewing conductors, as well. Maintaining contact with these individuals, besides an immense honor, would be especially helpful as I navigate my career options. I aspire to involve myself in the American Choral Directors Association, as I’d like to keep conducting during my undergraduate career and beyond. Their guidance would be excellently suited towards such a goal. 

If I could collaborate with anyone on a creative project, I would work with the Pitt M.U.S.I.C club. Working with my classmates brings me the greatest joy, and I’d love to see what we could do. And, if I’m lucky, I might be able to conduct some new compositional works! 

As always, stay tuned for more!

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