Higher Learning: STNYC’s Hunter College Talk and Tour

CUNY Service Corp student Michelle Tibois and Sound Thinking NYC Project Director Ah-Keisha McCants sat down via phone-chat to speak with ‘sound thinker’ Sharon A. about her thoughts on the Hunter College talk and tour experience. The special event took place on Monday, October 15th and was hosted by Hunter College’s Deputy Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment, Joseph Fantozzi Jr.

A number of our Sound Thinking cohort-members and CAT Youth Theatre members toured Hunter’s campus and experienced a curated information session on the nuts and bolts of applying to the prestigious yet affordable undergraduate program. The students learned about Hunter’s music and arts programs and more. Student Ambassadors and current college juniors, Becky and Brooke, shared the ins and outs of applying for scholarships, internships, and lunch plans. They shared advice on making friends on campus (hint, it’s really easy), the amazing music courses available (they’re super hands-on and include special music concerts) as well as the perks of Hunter’s state-of-the-art library (students not only can borrow books, but iPads and laptops!). All in all, it was a great night of higher learning!

Michelle, who is a current senior at John Jay College kicked off the conversation. Read the interview below:

Michelle: Hi Sharon. It’s nice to meet you over the phone. My name is Michelle Tibois, […] I am working alongside Ah-Keisha and Paola for Sound Thinking. I’m a CUNY Service Corps member. I just kind of want to interview you in regards to the Hunter College experience that you had, would you mind answering some questions for me, if you have time?

Sharon: Yeah, I have time.

M: Awesome! I wanna know about you Sharon. Tell me about you. Your grade, what you do?

S: Well, I’m Sharon. I’m 17, I’m a junior. I play instruments. I like soccer. There isn’t much to that after that.

M: What do you play? What instruments?

S: Guitar, piano, ukulele.

M: Oh my goodness, that’s amazing.

Ah-Keisha McCants: She plays all these instruments, wait say them again, Sharon!

S: Guitar, piano, ukulele and a little bit of the banjo.

M: Awesome, thank you. That’s great. What did you learn about Hunter College while you were there?

S: I learned that they were a liberal arts college and I didn’t know that it was a public college and that it was part of CUNY. I learned that they had programs for music and that the tuition was under 7 thousand dollars.

M: Where on the campus did you visit?

S: We visited all of the buildings, the north, west and east buildings. We were able to see the big auditorium that I think, seats about 2,000 people.

M: What did you think about the campus? what was your impression when you got there?

S: It’s big, I mean, it’s just 3 buildings but it’s big and each building has it’s own environment. I know that there’s like different types of people in each building and everyone’s there for something different.

M: Anything that you picked up on or saw on the campus, like the life of the students or even anything that was visually appealing or the setting around you?

S: All the buildings are connected by bridges so you can just go to one building by like crossing the bridges instead of going outside in the street and crossing the street to get to the other side.

M: I like that about their school, so what are your thoughts on their music program? Especially for someone as talented as you are! What do you think?

S: I think they have music education and they have classes for history of music, like rock n roll and things like that…

M: Did you learn anything about the college admissions process that surprised you?

S: Not really.

M: So you kind of knew what the process was like?

S: Yes, in my school we talk about it so much. We’ve been talking about it since middle school.

M: What are your thoughts about going to school in NY?

S: Well, I want to.

M: What is it about NYC? Is it the environment? Are the schools good, to you?

S: Yes and I love the city and I want to study in the city. But I feel like if I was able to get an opportunity to study outside of NY, I think I would take it.

M: What did you think about the student Ambassadors, Becky and Brooke?

S: I think they were nice, I can relate to them. They talked about things I think would be important to teenagers, like me. Maybe if the ambassadors were older they wouldn’t understand what I would be asking. Like when it comes to like a food plan or jibs or internships nearby.

M: What other programs did you learn about?

S: I know they have programs for Pre-Med and Pre-Law as well.

M: What do you think you want to major in while in college?

S: I know it’s gonna be in Music Technology, most likely sound engineering or audio engineering. But it would definitely be music related. Just not music education.

M: Why were you interested in visiting Hunter?

S: I’ve been to one other college in the city, visiting, but I wanted to see my options. I knew that if I looked online I would be able to find information but I wanted to actually see the school and see how the student life is.

M: Are there any other colleges or universities you’d like to visit? Has there been any on your mind?

S: NYU. I have to do more research.

AM- I have one … question, what advice would you give to other young people who are considering whether they should go to college or not?

S: I think college is always a good option, it’s not for everybody but you should always have some kind of education in college because it can always back you up no matter what you do. At least in any job that you choose it may be easier for you to find something than just having a high-school diploma. College education is important and it will actually take you places.

AM: Any other schools in NY you’d like to visit?

S: Maybe Julliard, but I don’t know about that one.

AM: Michelle, did you ever have a situation where you had to realize, let me just take a chance?

M: Oh yeah. 100 percent. When I first I got into to John Jay I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for school because even though I had my parent’s financial support, they weren’t able to support me fully, with all my tuition. I remember senior year of high school, a company had offered this opportunity for us to create a creative portfolio and also a creative writing piece. I remember having all these creative people around me and I was feeling very discouraged but when I applied I got support from my teachers. They reminded me of the worst that could happen, but at least I would put my best foot forward and I got both scholarships. I got through two years of college without having to need support from my parents. Then the next two years, it worked out and because I took that chance and I didn’t let that discouragement be my reality, it actually propelled me forward. It’s all about putting your foot in the door and taking that step because you never know what’s behind it..

AM: That’s what Sound Thinking is all about, promoting positive risk-taking. Well, thank you so much Sharon.

M: Thank you!

S: Thank you for calling.

Thank you to Joseph Fantozzi and Hunter College student ambassadors, Becky and Brooke, for making our visit to Hunter a memorable one! We cannot wait for our next tour and talk!

 

STNYC Tours: Hunter College

by Uma R.

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It was very surreal to walk into the doors of Hunter College. Growing up in the city, I always thought that I would be leaving home to go to college, saying goodbye to the concrete jungle. However, taking the tour gave me a weird perspective on what college life in New York City would be like. In the West building, where we started our tour of the over a century year old institution, there was not one corner of the floors that was not occupied by students either studying, working, or hanging out with friends. It was strange to think that this student body population of 23,000 leaks out into the city that I live in. College life to me has never been acquainted with New York or Manhattan, because I’ve never imagined one of the biggest cities in the world being used as a college town; seeing how huge the student body population is made me realize how many opportunities there are for college students in New York City.

Our tour guides took us through different parts of the West building. We got to walk through multiple floors of the huge library that the college houses, similar to the libraries that I’ve seen in other colleges outside of the city, but what was different about Hunter to me, were the huge bridges that connected its different buildings together. Via the bridges, you could see amazing views of the city as the sun set. As we crossed the bridge that went from the West building into the library, we could see the different buildings where Hunter classes were held. Even though the campus is extremely spread out, the college still felt like a community because the student life is literally connected by bridges.

Speaking more about the community, it genuinely felt like home because there were kids from all over the country studying in the halls. It was like a small version of New York City. The diversity was comforting, especially when we walked into the music department and saw that nothing about the variety of the student body changed. Walking through an older building to get to the practice rooms of the music department was really cool, because you could see kids walking in and out of the doors carrying their instruments, while in the actual practice rooms, we could see students collaborating and playing music together. It was inspiring and uplifting to see what it looks like first hand to study and create music in higher education.

All in all, I was very grateful to have been able to tour Hunter College, because it showed me an opportunity for college that I was reluctant to take at first. Staying in the city to study for some reason seems daunting, but seeing Hunter helped me to recognize the potential that studying in a city rich with the arts could hold in my college career.

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Sound Advice

by Paola Messina

Woe is Not You! Avoid Dreaded Feedback & Hear Yourself On-Stage

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(Source: SoundOnSound)

Singers, did you know that straining to hear yourself on-stage may injure your vocal chords and simply turning up stage monitors (those wedge-shaped speakers) is a recipe for feedback problems?

First, consider using in-ear monitors (IEMs). When you notice a musician is performing wearing earbuds and has a pack hooked to their belt, they’re using IEMs to reduce noise and hear themselves on-stage. IEMs allow for greater mobility on stage, protection against high volume levels, and better sound quality.

If IEMs aren’t an option and a stage monitor is what you’re working with, make sure the wedge is at an angle that minimizes feedback from your mic (pictured above). It depends on the microphone you’re using, but when it comes to dynamic cardioid mics most often used for live vocals (the Shure SM58 is a staple), positioning the monitor directly behind the mic is the best option.

If feedback still occurs, equalization (EQ) might be the answer. Notching out frequencies above and below your voice’s frequency range will help you cut through the mix and remove the risk of feedback.

Finally, ask the live sound engineer to adjust the volume of your monitors as needed to hear yourself well and do a full-band soundcheck before the performance.


For more on hardware options available for live performance monitoring for singers and other instruments, check out these resources:

On-Stage Monitoring – Sound On Sound

In-Ear Monitor Buying Guide – Sweetwater

Refresher: Different Microphones & Pick-Up Patterns – Shure

More Tips On Preventing Feedback – Sweetwater

HAVE A QUESTION OR THEME SUGGESTIONS? E-MAIL PAOLA

Reflection: Blue Man Group

by Kailee-Jade Berrios

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STNYC & CAT Youth Theatre members, with CAT staff, post-Blue Man Group experience

First of I just want to say thank you to Ania Grzesik for inviting us to see The Blue Man Group. Ania was a panelist during our inaugural summer intensive Mentoring Friday’s event. I don’t have any words for this show; I was speechless. I’ve always wanted to see this show. Now that I finally saw it, it was definitely worth it. The thing that stood out most about this show was their use of sound. It felt like having our own jam session. The production used different types of instruments to create their sound. They used different colored paints with their drums — the drums had such a loud bass, I could feel it in my chest! When they used the paint on the drums, the paint bounced back when they played. The paint looked like little tiny colorful spots; it looked like something you would see at a fountain– they were really beautiful. 

They also used pipes to create sound. They used the pipes to make the sound louder — like when you roll up a piece of paper and speak into it, your voice gets more bass and volume. That’s what it reminded me of and when they connected the pipes; the sound was sooo amazing. I’m telling you it was like their own jam session on that stage, not only did they do sound but they used comedy. That show was HILARIOUS and every skit they did made me laugh. They even brought people from the audience onto the stage! My favorite part of the show was when the Blue Men went all the way to the back of the Astor Place Theatre and grabbed paper rolls and threw them at us to keep it rolling. Plus, their lighting design was amazing; it felt like I was at an underground club. It was the best experience and I recommend people to see the Blue Man Group for themselves. I would definitely see that show again in a heartbeat.

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STNYC Staff & Students

Sound Music Reviews

Hi, Clara and Jasmin here! We are two students from the inaugural cohort of Sound Thinking NYC! We decided to come together to create this column to share some of our favorite pieces of music to all of our readers in hopes of expanding your palate. With our reviews of production, sound and background information, we hope to help you discover new music and artists that you normally wouldn’t listen to. Music is a very large area of opportunities and we hope through this monthly column, we could make it a little easier to get to know some great artists to watch out for! Thank you for reading!  – J & C.

Review By: Jasmin Bota

waitress_500This month the album I’d like to focus on is the soundtrack to the popular musical, Waitress. Originally a famous movie back in 2007, composer and pop singer Sara Bareilles brings this movie to the stage with her raw emotion, and beautiful interpretation of this heart-wrenching journey. The show is a self-discovery story about a woman named Jenna who is married to an abusive husband. After one drunk night, Jenna finds herself pregnant and must decide whether or not to leave him for good after she gives birth. To cope, Jenna finds baking to be a sense of comfort and uses it as her creative outlet—throughout the show she uses baking to help her figure out her problems. As Jenna’s pregnancy progresses and Jenna’s pregnancy journey continues, Jenna begins to fall in love with her OBGYN and the two start an affair that will change her life. This emotional rollercoaster of self-doubt and re-discovery creates a story that has listeners on the edge of their seats from start to finish. 

Waitress is an award-winning musical and is the first Broadway show to have an all-female creative team. Waitress has also set the record for the most money earned in previews for a play showing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. This album includes powerful ballads by Broadway actress, Jessie Mueller, who plays Jenna and is mostly known for her role as Carole King, as well as appearances by Kimiko Glenn, Keala Settle, Drew Gehling, and many more. The heartfelt lyrics and emotion within this album makes Waitress a story to remember and with a band of very few, this music is as raw as its story. I would rate this soundtrack a 7/10 because of its storyline and plot as well as vocal richness. The only reason I will not give it a 10 is because Broadway shows are simply better in person. The magic of live theater is one that is well underestimated! 

Although streaming this album is a gift on its own, seeing the show with it creates an experience I’m sure every music lover would kill to get their hands on. 

Rating: 7/10
Album: Waitress the Musical
Composer: Sara Bareilles


Review By: Clara O’Connell

marmozetsmainimageIn late 2015 and early 2016, the vocalist of the British band Marmozets, Becca Macintyre, endured two intensive procedures on both of her knees, immobilizing her for months after the operation. Those months spent in solidarity launched Macintyre into a depressive spiral to the point where she considered quitting the band, something she had been working on since she was fifteen years old. But she felt as though the stage was where she belonged, and she could never give that up. Little by little she began to get back on her feet and find her place again. And so Marmozets, comprised of Macintyre’s brothers Sam and Josh on guitar and drums, respectively, and brothers Will (bass) and Jack (guitar) Bottomley, began recording for their second album Knowing What You Know Now later that year, 2016.

The album features dance-y songs like “Meant to Be,” big rock songs like “Habits” and “Suffocation,” and slower, more somber songs like “Me & You”. The sonic diversity of the record was a deliberate choice; “That’s the beauty of art; you can go in so many different directions,” says Macintyre to Rock Sound magazine. Macintyre’s vocal performance is incredible and impressive—switching from angsty rock sounds in songs like “Major System Error” to a strong, deep voice in songs like “Insomnia”.

Despite the variety in sound throughout the album, Knowing What You Know Now has a common idea running through it. It’s “about going through all the trials and the crap that life does bring… It’s about realizing and getting some sort of method to fall in place for you to be able to deal with those situations, when they come back around,” is how Macintyre describes it to AltPress magazine back in January 2018. In a sentence, this record is for anyone looking for an honest British rock album with a strong vocal lead and energetic band to back it up.

Song: Run With The Rhythm
Rating: 4/5
Album: Knowing What You Know Now (Roadrunner Records)
Artist: Marmozets

Sound Advice

by Paola Messina

What is compression and why is it important in music production?

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Compression is used to even out the dynamic range of an audio signal.  

 Our voices have dynamic range and thankfully so! It’s only natural for the volume of the speaking and singing voice to fluctuate. In fact, it’s a powerful source of expression. The same can be said about instruments and variations in how loudly/quietly we play them.

When it comes to recordings, however, listeners shouldn’t be reaching for the volume knob constantly to make adjustments. This is where the compressor does its magic, insuring that both the quietest and loudest parts of your mix aren’t too low or too high to hear properly. Lower audio signals are boosted and louder ones are attenuated, creating balance between the two extremities.

Compressors can be applied to individual tracks, but are also a common addition to the final mix, shaping the dynamics of the track as a whole for extra power, punch and energy!

Before you compress:

  • Record a clean take! Wait until you’re editing and mixing to add compression.
  • Experiment with different settings and make sure you’re familiar with the meaning behind each of the parameters (Attack, Release, Ratio, Threshold) as you make your adjustments
  • Less is more – over-compressing may bring noise and unwanted sounds to the forefront!
  • A/B’ing: Listen to the track with the compressor engaged and with it bypassed so you can compare and contrast as you go.

To sum up this first edition of Sound Advice… Listen closely to compress, no stress!


For more on compression and techniques, check out these resources:

A Beginner’s Guide to Compression – Sweetwater

A Guide to Compression with Examples– Tutsplus

How Does Dynamic Range Compression Change Audio? – How-To Geek

HAVE A QUESTION OR THEME SUGGESTIONS? E-MAIL PAOLA

Sound Music Reviews

Hi, Clara and Jasmin here! We are two students from the inaugural cohort of Sound Thinking NYC! We decided to come together to create this column to share some of our favorite pieces of music to all of our readers in hopes of expanding your palate. With our reviews of production, sound and background information, we hope to help you discover new music and artists that you normally wouldn’t listen to. Music is a very large area of opportunities and we hope through this monthly column, we could make it a little easier to get to know some great artists to watch out for! Thank you for reading!  – J & C.

Review By: Jasmin Bota

Sweetener, the fourth studio album by American pop singer Ariana Grande, is an album full of symbolism. When this album was in the works, Ariana Grande had found herself feeling “upside down” due to her rough circumstances as a result of the Manchester terrorist attacks that took place during her world tour in 2017. This event seemed to put Grande into a spiral of dangerous situations regarding mental health and a need for eliminating the toxicity within her life.

Through this album, Ariana Grande speaks on mental health, abusive relationships, important friendships, her new fiancé and her road to recovery. Songs like “Get Well Soon” carry out the symbolic theme through its length of time. At the end of this song, Grande decided to add 40 seconds of silence to match the date of these attacks. Grande uses lots of harmonies and whispery singing to give the feeling of self-discovery and healing. So many harmonies were added to the point where Grande has admitted to maxing out ProTools various times! Produced by Pharrell, this album is an album of truth and promise.

Rating: 4/5
Song: Get Well Soon
Artist: Ariana Grande


Review By: Clara O’Connell

Underworld, the fourth studio album by Australian rock band Tonight Alive, is a journey through the process of healing, both physically and spiritually. When the band went to Thailand to record, singer Jenna McDougall was suffering with chronic eczema, severe allergic reactions to food, and chronic fatigue and irritability. But she believed that these symptoms were physical manifestations of the emotional scars inside. The album addresses finding who you are, becoming that person, and loving that person.

In “Disappear,” featuring Lynn Gunn from PVRIS, McDougall sings of both being invisible and wanting to be invisible, a reflection of how the music industry treats women. “My Underworld,” a song with an amazing guest appearance from Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, is about coming to terms with your dark side; conversely “Looking for Heaven” is about finding a heaven within yourself. But each song on the record offers its own powerful message, whether it be about love of someone else or self-love, accepting your differences or being unapologetically you. Sonically, the album is a mixture between their earlier work and their 2016 release, Limitless. At the time of its creation, Limitless was the album that their previous label, Sony Music Australia, was wanting from them. It was a departure from the pop punk sound that Tonight Alive was known for; instead, it offered a more polished, poppier sound. Switching to Hopeless Records, the band had more control in the process, which allowed them to combine and change their sounds in a more comfortable way.

Underworld offers both the head-banging, yelling moments of their first two records, and the danceability of Limitless.

Rating: 4.5/5
Album: Underworld, Hopeless Records
Artist: Tonight Alive