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An Ode to Exploration


Sungmin Kim ’18, music major, classical pianist and possible future dentist, won’t settle for academic limits. He wrote this perspective.

I was primarily drawn to Hamilton because I wanted to study music but also pursue a predental track: I wanted to be able to take music and science classes. I wanted to take classes that would allow me to grow not only as a musician but also as a person, because I think that is what a liberal-arts education offers. I am still considering dentistry, but due to the fantastic experiences I’ve had with the music department and guidance from the faculty, I’m starting to seriously consider a career in music.

Even if I decide to go into music, I won’t regret not attending a conservatory because I gained so much from my exploration of a liberal-arts education. And music has branches in other areas of study. Studying physics can help find the right acoustical balance in a hall. Dance and movement studies provides awareness in body position and movement in playing the piano. There is a strong parallel between history and music history. Religious studies provides a key insight into early Western music. The expressionism and performance technique in theatre could be applied to music. The ties between music and art and literature are astounding.

I wrote an essay for my Poetry and Poetics class on a poem called “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” The poem praises the “unheard melodies of the timbrels” captured on the surface on the urn. My essay offered a musical perspective in the analysis of the ode. On the day I submitted the paper, I was leading a workshop for fourth-graders who were studying ancient Greece and visiting the Wellin Art Museum, where I am a docent, to see our collection of Greek artifacts. I was glad that I was able to share my analysis with the kids and offer them a perspective through art, poetry and music. This experience was the epitome of liberal arts.

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