Jeremy McGraw (2nd Quarter, 2008)

by Josh Barsch on August 20, 2010

2nd Quarter, 2008
Teacher Scholarship Winner
Jeremy McGraw

“My name is Jeremy Sean McGraw, and I am a 20 year old Music Education Major at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I have the privilege of being a member of the IUP Marching Band, “The Legend,” the IUP Tubaphonium Studio, and I am a brother in the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity. It is my goal to obtain my Bachelors, Masters, and eventually my Doctorate degree, enabling me to be an educator who can instill in my students, not only a love of music and performance, but also the ability to proceed with confidence, determination,perseverance,and passion no matter what they may pursue in their futures.”

A Portion of Jeremy’s Winning Essay:

Jeremy McGraw

My name is Jeremy Sean McGraw. I am a 19 year old freshman at CCAC of Allegheny County, Boyce Campus in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. While I have been accepted to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania for the fall term 2008, into the college of fine arts, with the major of Music Education, BSED, I have been attending CCAC, following my graduation from Gateway Senior High School, with the intent of accumulating credit transferrable to IUP.

Upon completion of the spring semester at CCAC, an as per my equivalency report from IUP, I will have accumulated, 27 transferable credit, including three credits obtained from scores I received on an AP Music Theory test taken my senior year in high school. I am currently on the Dean’s List with a 3.50 grade point average.

While I am proud of these accomplishments, more importantly, my sincere prayer is; that they will be an indication of my sincerity regarding not only my passion for music, but my desire and goal to attend and graduate from IUP’s highly accredited school of music, having obtained the knowledge and experience necessary giving me the ability to provide my future students with a vast array of opportunities and lessons regarding not only music, but history, culture and life itself.

My passion for music began as a toddler, listening to my older brother practice the bari-sax and drums and my sister the oboe while I banged on my play drum set and produced sounds from my play trumpet that came nowhere close to being music. Consequently, it did have a positive effect on me and I followed their example, beginning my music education in fourth grade playing the trumpet, which remained my instrument of choice throughout elementary school, junior high school, and into my sophomore year of high school.


However, all did not go smoothly. In August of 1995, while my older brother was serving in the United States Marine Corp, my father, my mother, who was pregnant with my now twelve year old brother, my sister, and I, were vacationing with my grandparents in Erie Pennsylvania when my parents received a phone call that our house had burned down. Two weeks later, my mother delivered my brother almost two months prematurely, and the following May of 1996, my father lost his job of 20 years.

My father tried to start a business, working for a company that sold fire extinguishers, safety ladders, smoke alarms, and an array of other fire safety equipment, hoping to possibly spare others from having to experience what my family had gone through. Unfortunately, in spite of my father’s efforts, the business failed and my parents had to claim bankruptcy. While I was only 8 years old, I was aware that my mother had become ill and had to be hospitalized for depression and anxiety, which the doctor felt was caused by stress regarding the loss of our home, caring for my brother and the loss of my father’s job.

By the grace of our Lord and Savior, my mother recovered and has been well since, and after working as a school bus driver, my father acquired a new job as a Quality Control Supervisor in a carbide plant, a job he has had for nine years now. I disclosed this information only because I have learned much about life and the positive results of determination and commitment as I observed my parents work very hard to rebuild our lives, while always providing for myself and my siblings, supporting us academically and in all our extracurricular endeavors. I am very grateful for all the things I have been able to learn and the opportunities I have been able to participate in such as, band trips, private lessons, and extracurricular music ensembles that have required sacrifice on their part financially, and are a result of their courage, determination and most importantly their love.

In addition, I have been privileged to have had excellent music teachers who have not only given me the opportunity to broaden my education and abilities as a musician by studying music theory, giving me the opportunity to play the euphonium in symphony band and wind ensemble, the tuba in marching band, and pit instruments in a percussion ensemble, but also taught me about culture, discipline, commitment and a sense of determination and accomplishment that can be applicable to academic studies as well as to every aspect of our daily lives.

People, including school administrators consistently ask, “What relevance does a music program have on a student’s academic success?” and many schools have tried to abolish the music programs. Consider for a moment that, “music,” actually has a link to academic achievement. The study of music and music theory exposes a student to the utilization of math, composition format used in language arts, as well as history and culture form around the world. In fact, music is much more than just notes on a page. Clearly, and statistically, students involved in music programs find that the study of this form of art has not only a direct but positive effect in overall academic achievement.

Admittedly, it is difficult to understand how there is a relationship between music and the utilization on math skills. However, learning rhythmic patterns in music involves a simplified form of math, counting in groups; two, three and four or higher, and is present in all music repertoires. Consequently, a student is utilizing basic math skills repetitively throughout reading or playing a piece of music. Hence while learning time signatures and the value of rhythmic notation, the concepts of addition, subtraction; multiplication and division are present and repetitive.

As a result, a student’s application of math to music, in general music class, symphonic band, music theory, music tech, or choir, directly affects the students’ comprehension and application of basic math skills through repetition. In addition to the reinforcement of math skills, a student studying music theory or music technology recognizes basic essay formats used by musicians when composing music.

Similarly, musicians use music to tell story express emotion and appeal to the listener, just as a student uses words to write short story, an essay or research paper that appeals to the reader. For instance, the musician uses the title and first several bars of music to set the mood and make the listener aware of the content of the piece, the English student, uses a title, attention grabber and thesis statement to accomplish the same effect. Accordingly, the musician and the student, develop the body of the piece elaborating on what they wish to convey in the musical composition or essay. Moreover, both the musician and the student, summarize their work with a memorable and emotionally impacting conclusion.

As a result, the student comprehends the important of flow and structure directly improving writing skills when composing an essay or composition in their literary studies. Not only do music students excel in their ability to apply the study of music composition to writing assignments, but also experience exposure to culture and history while studying music theory.

For instance, in completely understanding a music composition, the student learns about the origin of the composer and the culture and history behind what the musician conveys through their music. Indeed, the study of music theory provides exposure to culture and history spanning the Middle Ages the Renaissance and Contemporary eras. In this case, a student directly develops an extended knowledge and appreciation for history and cultures throughout the world. Likewise, along with the academic aspect of the study of music education, my instructors, as well as my parents, have instilled in me the importance of determination commitment, the importance of teamwork, and the life lesson that it is not about the mistakes of failure we experienced in our music careers and life, but rather the ability to learn from them and move on.

For example, during a band completion in my senior year, I fell during the first movement of the music, and my tuba felt as though it was crushing my chest like a python. At that moment, as I lay on the ground with feet flashing before my eyes, all learned about determination, commitment, and teamwork flashed in my mind, and I knew I had to get up.

While that was one of the most embarrassing moment of my life to date, I realized how applicable to that moment, and to life, were the lessons learned that it is not about the mistakes or failures but the fact that I learned from the experience, got up, and went on.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow stated, “Music is the universal language of all mankind.” This simple but profound statement has been a source of motivation to me throughout my education. I believe that music is a universal language with the ability to establish a common bond among all subjects and people.

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