Student Spotlight: Ben Lanzi
How did you decide to come to Tufts and study music at Tufts?
I would say that my primary academic interests at the end of high school were foreign language and music, so, upon seeing that Tufts had solid departments and courses in these areas (and a nice music building), I was sold. However, I didn't go into Tufts thinking I was going to major in music for sure. It was only after I realized that nothing else was going to make me as happy that I made the decision.
Tell us about your favorite music course so far.
That's a difficult question. If I had to pick one, it would probably be one I'm currently taking: "Studies in Jazz: Music of the International Jazz Age" with Professor Stephan Pennington. Stephan is incredibly engaging, intelligent, and encourages us to question and rethink notions that have, for so long, been standard in the jazz historical pedagogy. I don't think there has been another class that has really pushed me to think critically as this one.
What are you involved in at the music department?
During my time in the music department, I have had the pleasure of taking a variety of coursework that has helped me hone my skills as a musician, scholar, arranger, and conductor. My concentration is in Conducting and Theory, so I've had some great experience working side by side with our choir and orchestra directors Jamie Kirsch and John Page, as well as some challenging theory and ear training courses with Frank Lehman and Michael McLaughlin. I've participated in a number of great department ensembles for multiple semesters such as the Tufts Jazz Orchestra, Small Jazz Ensembles, Chamber Singers, and Concert Choir. Through our Community Music program, I also worked in teaching children of the Medford/Sommerville area piano on the weekends for two years.
What are you involved in outside of the music department?
Music is still the cornerstone of my life at Tufts even outside the department. I would say, without a doubt, that my primary extracurricular is running the Tufts Freshman 15, the university's first student-run jazz big band. I've been fortunate enough to lead this group since my freshman year and, despite missing out on a year of playing due to COVID, it has helped me to foster skills as a leader, musician, and person like nothing has before. It's been a pleasure to run a group of such talented musicians and I will be forever grateful for the experience.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I'm currently listening to a mix of Thad Jones, Miles Davis, Mahler, Phantom of the Opera, and random pop songs.