Y2 Reflection: On Leaving BHSEC

Gus Yafcak, ’14

I chose to write my Y2 Inquiry Project on a passion of mine: music. While there are more fields within music than can be addressed, I settled on experimental music. Though I’ve long identified myself as an experimental music listener, I realized that I didn’t have a solid definition of what it actually is. When I began to write the piece, I knew exactly what I had in mind. I wanted to do some brief research into critical definitions of the music and then ask my peers what they thought. Within days of starting, I realized that doing so would barely scratch the surface of my topic. There are more facets to music than just the critics and the listeners. The producers matter, the history matters, and, above all else, the artists matter. I interviewed musicians who have been labeled experimental at some point or another: Kim Gordon, Bill Nace, Tony Conrad, and MV Carbon. I looked at sales figures and advertising patterns for different types of music. I discovered more artists and listened to more music than I ever thought was possible. In the end, I found that I couldn’t say a single thing about music without addressing each piece of the whole.

When I came to BHSEC, I knew what I had in mind. I wanted to get good grades and go on to a prestigious college and earn a degree in two years. After that, I would go on to Law or Medical School. Within weeks of arriving, I realized that my goal wasn’t just impossible; it was completely outlandish. There is so much more to an education than rushing through and waiting for the next level – especially an education as rigorous as this one. Every course I’ve taken here has benefitted me in one way or another. My time here has taught me as many things about myself as it has about anything else. This fall, I won’t try to rush through school. I’m going to take advantage of all that I can. BHSEC has shown me that there is so much more to learning than earning a degree. BHSEC has taught me independence.

Throughout the entire Inquiry process, I worked alone. I met with professors and took advice from my peers, but all the information that I now know came from my own research – from me teaching myself. On Friday, I’ll stand before an audience and speak for forty minutes about experimental music in the hopes of imparting some of that knowledge before I leave this school.

Hearing students speak about their experiences at BHSEC has had a profound effect on me. My first memories of BHSEC are from a panel of students who spoke when I was still just a prospective student. One of the panelists told the audience that “BHSEC doesn’t just teach you, it teaches you how to learn.” After four years here, I can say with complete confidence that that’s true.

Gus encourages everyone to come see his symposium “From John Cage to Sonic Youth: What is Experimental Music?” this Friday.

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