On Tuesday June 27, we had the pleasure of welcoming the University of California professor of music Robert Emeritus Winter who was presenting I Can’t Hear a Thing!
In 2019 Robert and his longtime designer/programmer collaborator Peter Bogdanoff released their capstone Music in the Air (MITA to its many users)—an all-digital platform that runs on any Windows or Mac laptop. On a bedrock of world-class performances, Robert will attempt to persuade attendees (with a special shout-out to the self-identified “tone deaf”) that MITA can empower anyone with a college freshman vocabulary and a healthy dose of curiosity to get deep inside music written across the globe over the last two thousand years.
This goal of inspiring anyone to get into music was incredibly successful this last Tuesday Group; the sunset room was jam packed at exactly 12 PM with people from the community interested in learning about music from Robert Winter. Winter encouraged us not to look at the presentation screen as much and to learn with our ears; a concept that has proven tried and true as everyone was tapping their foot by the end of the hour. There are so many complicated names and concepts in music: harmonies, flats, crescendo… Winter said “you don’t have to know all that to feel what is happening.” He took us on a journey through 4 pieces of music from throughout the centuries of different styles and broke them down into sections for us. There are themes throughout a song that present themselves and often repeat, it is a change you can hear. Professor Robert Winter collaborated with other talented individuals to create Music in the Air, aka MITA. It is an inclusive environment for learning music, and he used this application right in front of us at Tuesday Group. He explained the benefits of using it to learn even if you’re starting from ground zero with music experience; the application seemed easy to use after watching him do it, and on the MITA website there is a tutorial on how to use it.
During this process (while using MITA), we talked about someone fairly well known: John Phillip Sousa. Winter did mention that although he was an “all-American racist”, he was also a very talented musician. Winter took us through a piece of Sousa’s, and noted that “America is a land of paradox,” We never know what the future of music holds, or which way the world around us will shift; it is impossible to predict what will be, and looking at what has been is important to the developing culture of deep love for music. We talked about Adeline Shepherd, a composer from somewhere not too far from Ely: Milwaukee, WI. Adeline made music in a very unique way: all by ear.
What’s the one thing professor Winter has been pushing for us to be doing? Learning by ear. Adeline was an incredibly talented composer, and produced a popular ragtime piece called “Pickles and Peppers”, in which Winter pointed out themes throughout the song and had us learn by ear that different bridges and repeats.
While wrapping up our session, Winter noted that “music is the great peacekeeper.” This resonated with me deeply as I have always found pure peace in music; music helps me process my daily life, and the thoughts and emotions that come with living. Having a format of expression that allows me to feel the emotions through the song is something I hold dear. The community was happy to welcome professor Robert Winter to our Tuesday Group, and Robert said the goal of this program was to “liberate people back to the ears.” We are thankful Robert came all the way to Ely, MN from California, and how incredible it is that this opportunity to learn from him was presented to us!
“The time is coming, but not in our lifetime, when [music] will develop possibilities inconceivable to now - a language as transcendent that its heights and depths will be common to all mankind.” -Charles Ives, an American composer
If you are interested in Robert Winter’s music program Music in the Air (MITA), please click HERE.
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