Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley, West Chester University is a picturesque and historic community that offers small-town charm with cosmopolitan flair due to its close proximity to Philadelphia. The West Chester University Wells School of Music offers students an opportunity to perform weekly under the direction of world-class teachers and musicians. With 16 undergraduate programs and over 24 ensembles to choose from, you can find your perfect fit.
This week, we sat down with WCU alumnus, Dr. Austin Glatthorn. Dr. Glatthorn graduated from WCU in 2011 with a B.M. in Music Education. From there, he pursued his Masters in Music and Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Musicology at the Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music.
Acceptd: How did you first discover your love of music? Were there early influences or experiences that shaped your path?
Dr. Glatthorn: To be honest, I don’t really know when it began or who put that seed in my head. I didn’t come from a particularly musical family, but one early memory I do have of classical music was when my father returned from a business trip and brought me a classical music CD. I loved it — I played it over and over again. It wasn’t music that he listened to, but it had a big impact on me. My parents were always supportive of my interest in music, but they didn’t push it.
I started playing saxophone in the third grade. I actually almost left music entirely in middle school because I wanted freedom from the stand and notes. That’s when I started playing guitar, and honestly, I think that saved my interest in music. I continued playing saxophone, and by high school, I was playing in more ensembles. I had the support I needed to take my interest in music to the next level. The teachers were able to guide my interest in music in a way that my parents couldn’t — they were unconditionally supportive but just didn’t have the training or knowledge to point me in the direction that my music teachers could. I was playing classical music and participated in the jazz band when I became interested in composition — I’m not a composer, but I wanted to know more about the building blocks of music.
Acceptd: Think back to when you were 18 and deciding where to study for your undergraduate program. What were some of the major factors that helped you choose West Chester?
Dr. Glatthorn: For me, the location of West Chester was ideal. It has somewhat of a small town feel to it while having all of the advantages that come with its proximity to Philadelphia. I loved the beautiful, historic campus, but perhaps most important of all was the quality of the facilities. I believe I was part of the first full class of students to enjoy the new Swope Music Building — it was great to know that I’d be spending the majority of my time in this innovative, aesthetically appealing building.
Additionally, the audition process at West Chester was phenomenal — it was intense like any audition, but the professors made it feel more like a lesson, which was great. Everyone seemed so friendly; the way the professors interacted with students made what is normally a very stressful situation feel much calmer. It was apparent to me right away that the professors were interested in you, not just as a potential student, but as a person. That made a big impression on me as a prospective student.
Acceptd: How would you describe your experience at West Chester? Were there any particularly important/special professors, groups, or activities that enriched your experience?
Dr. Glatthorn: In a word, I’d describe my experience at West Chester as “formative.” It allowed me to investigate things I wouldn’t have otherwise explored, largely because of the academic opportunities and the Applied Music faculty. I was involved in the Marching Band all four years and served as a student director in my final year, and that provided a sense of camaraderie, especially among the incoming freshmen.
One aspect I very much enjoyed about West Chester was how much music you heard all the time. Concerts, recitals, and performances by students and professors alike were always a source of inspiration for me to get into the practice room. This intense concert life also fueled my musicological interests – I constantly wanted to know more about what my peers and professors were playing, and I wanted to understand more about the historical periods in which those pieces were created.
I’m still in touch with many of the great professors who were so helpful in that formative period of my life. I keep in touch with them and, on occasion, seek out their advice. They were the kind of people who went out of their way to help you out, and that really impacted me.
Acceptd: How has your interest in music evolved over the years, from a Music Major at West Chester to a Musicology Professor at Oberlin?
Dr. Glatthorn: I started at West Chester as a saxophone player and Music Education major — I knew I wanted to teach. When It came time to decide what I wanted to do as a senior in high school, I had a hard time making up my mind between history and music.
I took a keen interest in Baroque Music, and it was only a matter of time before I switched instruments to oboe. I had been performing Baroque Music on saxophone and decided I would be better off playing it on an instrument the music was originally written for. This was a key moment for me — switching to oboe opened up the ensembles that were otherwise off-limits to me as a saxophonist. I joined the Chamber Winds, Orchestra, and of course, kept playing in the band.
As time went on, I became more and more interested in the repertoire of the Baroque era — I wanted to know more about the history behind the music, and as a senior at West Chester, I thought to myself “maybe there’s more to this.” I knew I was still passionate about teaching, but I didn’t want to sell myself short in terms of my interests. I wanted to explore the intersections between music and the world in which it was created. I love discovering how music reflects culture, and how culture gives rise to music. That’s when I decided to pursue musicology.
Acceptd: At Acceptd, we work to connect artists with opportunities and communities. Keeping that in mind — what advice would you give to a high school student choosing an undergraduate program? To an undergraduate student deciding on a specialty within music or on their next step as a musician, whether that be as a graduate student or professional?
Dr. Glatthorn: I’ve always thought it was a bit ridiculous, and certainly unnecessarily stressful, to try to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life when you’re 18 years old. I’d tell a high school student this instead: do what you want. Do what you enjoy, and always keep your options open. Your interests may change — be open to that change, and be open to trying new things. Try not to be too stressed about making a decision, because that decision isn’t final. Be sure to explore lots of different avenues – you may be pleasantly surprised.
Regardless of where you are in your journey as a musician, make sure you have a mentor who has had a successful career in the field that interests you. Ask them for advice, and do so often. If I can consider myself successful today, it’s because I’ve had great training and haven’t been afraid to ask for advice and have had mentors who were there to help.
For an undergraduate student, I’d say this: when it comes to your time at university, you get out of it what you put into it. Take advantage of all of the resources around you — both within your music department and outside of it. This is such a great time to learn many different things and make connections between music and the related arts. You’ll probably never be in such an intellectual and performative community again unless you decide to work in a college setting, so be active and take advantage of every single opportunity.
Click here to learn more about West Chester University’s School of Music.
By: Kelley Lauginiger | All photos by Vic Brazen (@wnwmedia)
At Acceptd, we’ve interviewed lots of artists over the past year or so. No matter their disciplines, everyone divulges a similar story when discussing their unique formula to success in the arts: you have to stay busy.
Strategically using all the time in the day to create culture they’re passionate about including touring the world performing live music, performing on stilts as part of a circus troupe, teaching students to sing and perform, or writing and performing stand-up comedy, each craft requires dedicated, hard work. You can’t be lazy or expect anything to come to you if you want to be successful in the arts. Sure, you could make it a hobby or a part-time gig, but if you want it to be your life, you truly have to earn it.
It’s fair to expect a high school student’s eyes to instinctively roll when given life tips from adults two to three times their age. But take it from someone who is 24, successful, and living her dreams: busy is key. Karina Rykman tours the country as a professional bassist with the eclectically talented keyboard and piano virtuoso, Marco Benevento’s band, while simultaneously booking NYC concert cruises from her tour-bus while out on the road.
“You get one life. One chance to do what it is you want to do,” Karina said about staying busy and working on simultaneous projects. “My main advice is kind of cliche but its true: follow your heart, do what you love. But, just don’t wait. Go do it now!”
We all want to be accepted, loved, admired, popular….and the list could go on and on, right? We want to fit in with others and basically…be liked! It’s a ton of pressure to wake up every day and have to think about whether your clothes, hair, intelligence, talent, etc. will stand up against the judgy eyes of other kids. And that’s just if you’re a normal average teen! What if you’re a singer, dancer, artist, actor, or musician? How do you fit in with other students and at the same time, stand out?
If the thought of going to school in Hollywood makes you (or your parents) feel excited, overwhelmed, or all of the above: have no fear! You’re not alone. Read on to learn why studying music in L.A. at Musicians Institute may be the best choice for you. Read more
That’s the golden question many of you are asking yourselves this time of year. Acceptd’s annual ‘Guide to Choosing an Art School’ is here to help! We’ve compiled a complete resource to help you make smart, informed and confident choice in your next phase as an artist.
In Acceptd’s ‘2018 Guide to Choosing an Art School’ you will:
You’ve heard of Fender and Gibson. Your dad used to play a Rickenbacker. But have you heard of Prisma Guitars? These unique, handcrafted instruments are one-of-a-kind made from upcycled wood. And not just any wood; the wood from old, defunct, and recycled skateboards.
“Sometimes we sit all day and pull grip tape off the boards ’til our fingers basically start bleeding,” Nick said. “In the beginning it was taking six months to make a guitar. Now, I can do it in a day.”
“I take some of these boards out, and there is blood on them, or a huge chip in them from where the skater was mad and hitting the ground with their board,” Nick said. “Visually, (once we work on them) you can see the pressure cracks, or where someone broke it, or holes, but when you touch it…it’s not there. So that way, you get the story. It’s like people-watching, but just with skateboards.”
We talked to Nick about entrepreneurship in the arts, how he got where he is today, and what advice he has for other creative spirits who are considering taking a risky leap of faith towards a big reward.
It’s easy to be a Monday hater. But, you can’t give up on Sunday! Sunday is a built-in reset button. It’s a day society actually expects you to rest, recuperating from getting knocked around by life all week. Sure, another week starts tomorrow, but Sunday is there for you. Like a mother who just wants what’s best for you, it also expects you to be productive.
Don’t be an April fool. That is behind us! Myths about what it means to pursue the artist’s path have been around for as long as, well, artists have been creating. From their perfectionist tendencies and eccentric personalities to the moody temperaments and emotional chaos that must inspire (and also eventually derail – I’m looking at you, Van Gogh) their forms of expression, these stereotypes persist despite the diversity of artists working today and the many insights into their lives and process that they willingly reveal. Here are a couple whopper myths we’ve seen over the years: Read more
Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley, West Chester University is a picturesque and historic community that offers small-town charm with cosmopolitan flair. The West Chester University School of Music offers students an opportunity to perform weekly under the direction of world-class teachers and musicians. With 16 undergraduate programs and over 24 ensembles to choose from, you can find your perfect fit.
This week, we sat down with Professor Randall Scarlata, Associate Vocal Professor and an acclaimed vocal performer, to learn more about his life as a singer and a professor. Read on to learn more about Randall’s accomplished career, his advice to aspiring musicians, and the highlights of his time working with students at West Chester. Read more
It’s been a potpourri of artist interviews on the Acceptd blog, and it smells like Spring! Fresh perspectives are blooming, and we’re living for it. Today we talk to Joan Pinnell, freelance graphic designer and Assistant Director, Communications and Outreach (assistant-imagination-person) at Northwestern University’s Transportation Center in Evanston, IL (just north of Chicago).
Joan has catalyzed her creative, ambitious spirit into an innovative career in the education sphere, at one of the most renowned schools in the country. Read on to learn her story, and what advice she has for young artists interested in a similar future. If you’re eager for education and your creativity is matched by a thirst for knowledge and lifelong learning, this interview is for you!