Wednesday, November 23, 2011

MIT Splash

This past weekend, I had a chance to attend MIT Splash. It's a program hosted by MIT students for middle and high school students from all around the country. For the whole of Saturday and Sunday, students take one to three hour long classes on numerous topics ranging from organic chemistry and quantum physics to conducting and even internet memes.

I took courses about mathemagic, black holes, special relativity, combination locks, and conducting. Not only did I learn a lot, but I had my friends there to enjoy the experience with me.

But I wouldn't be posting about this event if it wasn't related to music somehow. Two of my classes were related to music: Intro to Livecoding and Conducting and Interpretation.

Livecoding, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, describes the composition and performance of music in real time through the use of programming languages. While it definitely is not the traditional style of "music composition" that I'm used to, its possibilities are endless. I could, for example, sit down with a computer and a friend, and we could emulate the sounds of an orchestra all by ourselves. There are things in music that no machine could ever substitute, but there are also aspects that could be greatly enhanced by the capabilities of computers. The class showed me how much fun I could have with these programs.

Conducting and Interpretation, on the other hand, taught me about the long-practiced skills of conducting. We went over beat patterns, cut-offs and cues. We went through the steps of score analysis, and ended by watching some great conductors perform. Conducting is surely a skill that can only be bettered through diligent practice. What makes conducting differ from practicing other instruments is that while you can bring home a saxophone, or a flute, or a clarinet and practice, you can't bring home an orchestra to practice conducting. But hopefully I will get more opportunities to conduct as the future presents itself. The teacher of the class certainly encouraged me to find some. Apparently according to him, I have potential. Yay!

But all in all, both musical and not-musical, I learned a lot. And MIT Splash just goes to show how well students can learn if they are motivated by their own interests to do so. I plan to attend again next year, and perhaps I'll even bring along more friends.