Melissa Parkhurst, an associate professor in the School of Music, delivered the faculty keynote address at the WSU Pullman convocation. She reflected on the past year and a half and collected her thoughts.
“These freshmen and sophomores have lived through challenges, uncertainty and now, in many cases, are traveling long distances from home where they’re not sure what to expect or what they’ll find,” Parkhurst said. “I thought about that and how we should welcome them and help them realize that while they may at times feel all alone, there are so many ways WSU is here to support them.”
At WSU, Parkhurst has brought cultural literacy and awareness to thousands of students across the university. Her courses provide ethnically diverse musical experiences, with performances and lectures from guest artists and hands-on workshops.
Central to her work is the concept of “personhood”—that the people about whom she writes and teaches are complex human beings.
WSU Pullman Faculty and staff are invited to attend this year’s University Convocation Friday, Aug. 20.
The official kick-off of the 2021-2022 academic year begins at 10 a.m. inside Beasley Coliseum. New Cougs will be introduced to academic and community leaders before they launch into their fall semesters. For many sophomores, it’ll be the first time they’ve been on the Pullman campus after spending their first year learning at a distance.
This year’s keynote speakers are Melissa Parkhurst, an associate professor in the School of Music and Isabelle Busch, a sophomore majoring in biological sciences.
Attendees who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask while inside Beasley Coliseum. Those who are fully vaccinated are encouraged to wear a mask as well.
In the spring of 1951, legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong took the stage at Bohler Gymnasium to play for Junior Prom. Tickets cost $3.25 per couple, and the theme was “Bayou Blues.”
For Horace Alexander Young, WSU associate professor of music and an accomplished musician himself, Armstrong’s visit to Pullman serves as inspiration and an important piece of the school’s past.
“WSU was taking the lead on bringing people of color to campus over more than 100 years of history,” said Young, who earned his MA at WSU in 1983. “It’s really exciting to look back on that history.”
It’s fitting that Armstrong was the first of the three music icons to visit WSU. He’s considered one of the fathers of jazz, and helped take the style from a regional sound to an international phenomenon.
Nearly a century before Billie Eilish or Drake, Roland Hayes was one of the hottest tickets in music. And over the course of 33 years, the Pullman campus was a regular stop for the man world-renowned for his mellow tenor voice and his wide-ranging musical selections.
Hayes would return to Pullman four more times over the next 33 years, concluding with an October 16, 1960, concert and leaving an important mark on the University’s growth.
For example, WSU music Professor Horace Alexander Young speculates Hayes could have been an early artist-in-residence of sorts. It’s likely Hayes held seminars, workshops and even lessons with students during some or all of his visits. He taught music at Boston College and mentored many younger African American singers, including Marian Anderson, Leontyne Price and William Warfield.
“You couldn’t necessarily hire black faculty back then, so the next best thing was to bring in artists in residence,” Young said. “In some ways, WSU was on the front line in having a hands‑on relationship with issues of race, diversity and inclusion.”
When I got your question, I snapped my fingers a few times to try and find the exact source of the sound. After a few tries, I decided to ask my friend Troy Bennefield, the director of Athletic Bands at Washington State University.
As the middle finger hits the base of the palm, you actually send some vibrations out into the air. Vibrations are a big part of the reason we can hear all kinds of things—from snaps to claps to a variety of musical instruments.
When an object vibrates, it creates waves of energy that travel to a listener’s ears. The outer part of the ears collect those waves and the ear canals channel them inside of the ears. Meanwhile, the brain helps interpret the incoming information and allows you to put a name to the sound you hear.
Bennefield is really interested in how we can use snapping in making music. One famous scene with a lot of snapping comes from the musical “West Side Story.” Maybe you know a song or two that incorporates a lot of snapping, too. Think about how that sound can bring a certain emotion or feeling to the song.