Student Testimonial: James Madison University College of Visual and Performing Arts

    Posted August 19, 2021, 3:36 pm by TeenLife

    Joe Jackson - James Madison University: College of Visual and Performing Arts

    Why did you choose to attend JMU and select Music?

    I knew I wanted to go into music, but didn't know which program to apply for. Being close to James Madison University’s campus, I learned about the Music Composition concentration which I found to be a good fit. After visiting campus and meeting with the professors, I felt very welcomed by the community. I knew I found the right place to call “My home close to home.”

    What are you hoping to get out of the program, and have you achieved it?

    Before I started at JMU, I knew I wanted to go on to graduate school in Screen Scoring, and I needed a bachelor’s degree in Music to apply. I still plan on applying for graduate school, and at JMU I've been able to learn, appreciate, and get involved in a vibrant musical community. Over time, I have found my voice as a composer through practicing eclecticism and bridging different communities together - the same way my music brings different styles together.

    Did you have to prepare to be a Music major in any way? Anything you wish you did?

    In addition to the initial Music school audition, as a composer you also have to apply for the composition concentration by submitting a portfolio of two pieces. Sometimes I wish I had known a bit more of the fundamentals and contemporary artists before my audition, but I would not be who I am today without the supportive friends, encouraging professors, and the success I have been able to achieve as a composer and musician if I had done anything different.

    What is a typical day like?

    No two music major’s schedules are the same, and for most, no two days are the same! As a music major, you have the normal course load of a regular college student, plus music ensembles, lessons, concerts, and extracurriculars. My first year at JMU I was in two large ensembles plus the Marching Royal Dukes and a horn quartet. There will be days where I am out from 8am to almost 11pm, but I love it! I walk pretty much everywhere so it provides good exercise when I’m not able to get to the gym.

    What has been the most memorable moment of your time at this college?

    At JMU, one of our ensembles is the JMU Brass Band, a British style band originating from Europe. We competed in the North American Brass Band Association contest performing Philip Sparke's “Music of the Spheres” - a challenging work showcasing the intense virtuosity of brass playing and requiring everyone’s collaboration. Performing this challenged my thinking as a musician and as a composer. The intensity of the concert, for the first time ever, brought me to tears, in addition to giving me goosebumps. Everyone on stage was giving it their absolute all, and the response from the audience confirmed our efforts.

    What advice do you have for teens looking for the right college to study the visual or performing arts?

    My one big piece of advice is that you have to love it. Studying the arts in academia is difficult, and I have seen others get discouraged because they were not expecting it to get so serious or busy. If you do not have a strong passion for what you are studying, you might struggle. For me, the James Madison University music community keeps me inspired because everyone is highly involved in so many different things. We love what we do, and I strongly encourage you to study what you love because your passion will be the thing that will keep you focused throughout your studies.

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