Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mountie Monday: The Spirit and Pride of Pennsylvania

Happy Monday, Mountie Nation!

For this week's Mountie Monday, I chose someone that I recently met and knew would be perfect for one of my last MM posts. Derek Smilowski conducts the marching band here at MU, which means he's the guy waving his hands in front of the band in order to teach the band their music. Derek grew up hearing his older sister play the violin, which originally inspired him to get involved with music.

Derek continued his love affair with music simply because it is purely human-created and notated. He pointed out how music is found in all cultures and civilizations in the history of the world and there has yet to be a culture founded that doesn't have some type of music that is unique to them. He (as well as I) finds it amazing that we can travel anywhere in the world, even without being fluent in a language different than our own, and still communicate through music. Another reason why Derek studies music is because it is one of the most human subjects out there and can be completely mood altering and relatable.

Name: Derek Smilowski

Year: Senior

Major: Music Education and Instrumental Performance

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Organizations: Kappa Kappa Psi (Music Fraternity), NAfME (national association for music education, Marching Band (drum major), Orchestra, Wind Ensemble

What made you choose Mansfield?

Derek: I knew that I wanted to be a music education major so I was in search for the perfect program. Mansfield was one of the first schools to offer a degree in music ed and that was back in the 1880's! What a reputation! Also, the quality of the marching band and other ensembles had a huge part to play.

Favorite professor or class and why?

Derek: Dr. Rinnert (the king as, as we call him) is the assistant director of the marching band and a professor of music education. He is an inspiration to me because he practices exactly what he preaches and is a phenomenal teacher. He teaches us exactly how he wants us to teach in the future and is more than fully supportive to the next generation of music teachers. He has helped guide me, not only in my experiences as a teacher, but also as a musician, conductor and more importantly, a person. Dr. Rinnert helped shape my life's philosophy, "it's all about the process, not the product."

Favorite event at Mansfield and why?

Derek: My favorite event at Mansfield was definitely the Light it Up Again weekend at MU. I can not tell you how much of a rush it was to conduct lead the marching band for the first time on our very own lighted field! The stands were packed and there was excitement in the air the whole night. It was an honor to be part of such a big event during my senior year at MU.

Favorite memory from Mansfield:

Derek: It's honestly hard to pick my favorite memory. My greatest memory is generally being here for four years. I've had so many great experiences and have certainly made life long friends. If I had to pin point one exact memory that was one of my favorites, it was when I won the student solo competition my sophomore year. Winning this meant that I got to prepare a major solo work for my instrument and be accompanied by our orchestra here in concert. Two of the other winners that year were very close friends of mine and I will always remember performing on stage that night and hearing my friends make some truly awesome music!

There must be a lot of pressure that comes with conducting... how do you deal with it?

Derek: I always make sure that I am overly prepared for the band's performance. Nothing is worse than going on feeling like you aren't prepared or ready for the show. We always perform at the Allentown Marching Band Festival in September where thousands of people are in attendance. Nothing tests your nerves more than trying to count off the band in a stadium filled to the brim with people. I try my best to pretend they aren't there and focus on what I can do to help the band sound its absolute best!

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