Music is an integral part of our lives, but how many of us ever think critically about it or evaluate the impact it has on how we perceive the world? As coordinator of the music program at The College at Brockport, Dr. Natalie Sarrazin, associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Music Studies and the Interdisciplinary Arts for Children Program, asks just those questions and brings the world, literally, to her students.
An ethnomusicologist specializing in the music of India and Bollywood, she incorporates global experiences and perspectives into the classroom. Through courses such as "Contemporary Social Issues in Music," she asks students to evaluate their own musical culture and to examine how it functions politically and psychologically in society. As she likes to remind them, "The fish is always the last to know it lives in the water."
Performance opportunities also abound as part of the program. Students can participate in the Chorus and Gospel Choir, the Brockport Symphony Orchestra, Clarinet and Jazz Ensembles and the Xylophone Ensemble. The Xylophone Ensemble, founded by Dr. Sarrazin, opens the world of musical performance to students of all levels, as long as they demonstrate a willingness to try. With so many secondary schools cutting back on music and the arts, and schedules crammed with demanding AP courses and activities, many students have never had the opportunity to explore their musical potential. The Xylophone Ensemble provides them a second chance.
A visit to Dr. Sarrazin's office offers a window into her world: overstuffed chairs, shelves loaded with books and artifacts from her travels, a grand piano, even cookies. It is an ideal place for the exchange of ideas and one that is always open to her students who seek out her guidance. She constantly mentors, looks for performance opportunities, pushes students to reach beyond what is merely comfortable and in return, they challenge themselves to rise to her expectations.
Dr. Sarrazin is also the co-director of the Hunter Institute on Young Children, founded through the generosity of Wil and Judy Hunter. The Hunter Institute sponsors professional forums for the exchange of ideas and best practices on issues surrounding early childhood education and professional development, providing a bridge among academics, administrators, teachers and childcare providers in the field.
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