Performer Blogs@Sequenza21.com

Jay C. Batzner is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida where he teaches theory, composition, and technology courses as well as coordinates the composition program. He holds degrees in composition and/or theory from the University of Missouri Kansas City, the University of Louisville, and the University of Kansas.

Jay's music is primarily focused around instrumental chamber works as well as electroacoustic composition. His music has been recorded on the Capstone, Vox Novus, and Beauport Classical labels and is published by Unsafe Bull Music.

Jay is a sci-fi geek, an amateur banjoist, a home brewer, and juggler.





1/30/2009
Enabler

I see one of my duties as a composition teacher is to promote and encourage curiosity. I'm at odds on how to do that. I want my students to go out (with gun and camera as my undergrad comp teacher used to say) and find music. I want them to take in anything and everything. I want them to expose themselves to the diversity of styles and philosophies present in today's modern music landscape. More than that, I want to ignite unquenchable fires within each student and get them passionate about this wide world of musical style.

I give my students names of composers, mostly living, that they should check out and listen to. I loan CDs, show everyone the magic of Interlibrary Loan, and function as a PR person for whoever I think my students need to listen to. Sometimes I feel like an infomercial for Art of the States and Nonpop Music and Counterstream Radio and PostClassic Radio.

My biggest fear, though, is that my proselytizing backfires. Instead of seeking the materials themselves and finding their own influences, they just take what I give them and it ends there. I become the single source. In some ways, my pedagogy seems like a drug dealer. "Psst, buddy, you want a good time? How about a little Julia Wolfe? Michael Gordon? What about Peter Sculthorpe? A little Rautavaara will fix you up nicely." Instead of my clients using me as a springboard for their curiosity, they think all roads of contemporary music come through me somehow. I want them to branch out and I'm not sure I'm being effective.

If you are reading this, you probably know how it goes. You listen to a piece by a new composer (or new to you, anyway). You like it. You yearn for more and you scour the planet getting more. Then, it isn't enough. You start listening to music by people who collaborate or associate with that original composer. The web builds. Connections are made. You discover stylistic things that you didn't know existed before. They start to manifest in your own music. First it is intentional, sure, but eventually you can't help it. You look back, now that you sound like a love child of everyone ever associated with Bang on a Can, and realize that your journey started just because some guy named David Lang won the Pulitzer and you'd never really heard any of his music before. And only a year ago you were sounding like Rachmaninoff. How did you get here?

It's a rush.