Villa Musica is excited to welcome Michael Jones to our faculty! Currently Michael is pursuing a DMA at the University of California San Diego, where he directs the undergraduate percussion studio. Pedagogy is integral to his practice as a musician, and he’s thrilled to join the teaching faculty at Villa Musica. I was unable to interview Mike like other spotlights, but I was able to ask him some questions. Read on to hear about Mike in his own words!
Q: What is your favorite thing about music?
I think my favorite thing about music is the way that it can teach us in so many different ways. Working through a score and making decisions teaches us about how we interpret; being moved by a piece of music teaches how we feel and react; talking about music teaches us about how we can engage with others, etc. Music is an activity that can lead in so many directions, and engaging with it will always repay the effort that one puts into it.
Q: Do you have any favorite artists or pieces?
I always say that my favorite music tends to be what I’m working on at the moment, which at the moment is the music of Rebecca Saunders. Other composers who live in my mental canon include Morton Feldman, Linda Catlin Smith, Catherine Lamb, and David Macbride. Honestly, I’m a bit of a metal head, so the bands that I return time and time again on that front are Meshuggah, Vildhjarta, and Between the Buried and Me. In my opinion, the heavier the better!
Q: Why do you teach/favorite thing about teaching? What do you think the importance of music education is?
I feel like teaching not only teaches the student, but also teaches the teacher! There are so many assumptions and habits that I take for granted in my own practice that become infinitely more complicated when I have to explain and justify them to a student. Teaching moves the practice of music-making into the public sphere where it becomes something that is shared and negotiated rather than simply enacted. In this way teaching is collaborative and dialogic, and I think that’s so amazing.
Q: Do you have any advice for people pursuing music as a career? As a hobby?
I think that my only advice is to trust your gut! There are so many ways of making music and making a life through music. If you encounter something that speaks to you, pursue it wholeheartedly and trust that, whether on a professional or amateur level, that the effort you expend will reward you, even if it doesn’t look like the prize you might have had in mind when you set out.
Q: In your opinion, how do music and community interact with each other?
Music is something that can teach important communal skills like negotiation, dialogue, problem solving, and interpretation of differences. However, when there’s an audience in the room, it becomes a ritual where performer and listener alike are kind of taken out of the normal identities of their everyday life and are permeated by all the energies that go through a musical performance. I think that engaging in music can enchant a community and then teach that community to see that enchantment out in their daily life once they leave the ritual space. Music is a tool for a community to engage, question, and affirm their values in this way.
Q: A random fact about you/something else you would like to share with the VM community!
In addition to music, I am a giant nerd who loves science-fiction, fantasy, and currently run a Dungeons and Dragons campaign for a bunch of other nerds at UCSD music!