#PROFspective: Student Leader Arianna Granda Talks Clubs, Music Education & Faith

Arianna Granda lays on the grass with musical scores surrounding her.

Today we feature Arianna Granda from Morris County, NJ. She is a rising senior studying Music Education with a vocal concentration and pursuing a CUGS in Jazz Performance. She currently serves as the president of both Rowan’s NAfME (National Association for Music Education) chapter and Profecy A Cappella group, as well as a leader of Rowan’s Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship. Here, Arianna shares her involvements with clubs and why she chose music education.

What attracted you to the field of education?

I think I’ve always known I wanted to work with people. And specifically with music, it’s always been a part of my life, from doing theater and choir throughout elementary school all the way through high school. I just knew that I wanted to share that in some capacity. My music teachers throughout all of my education have been super impactful, so I just knew I wanted to share that through education.

Arianna sings from a musical book next to the piano.

How do you hope to impact your students?

I think that music is super impactful, and is very much like a universal medium. Every culture has some form of music, whether it’s just rhythmic with drums or different songs and such, and so I think that because music is so broad, everyone can find a piece of themselves in it or make some personal connection with it. I guess my goal with my students is to show them how broad music is and help them be able to make music personal to themselves.

Why the concentration in vocals specifically?

I’ve always been singing since I was … I think 4th grade is when I started singing. And I also just love that it’s kind of everybody’s first instrument, like it’s an instrument that everybody has. So just being able to start out with it and use it, I think it’s just great to show students that they already are innately musical. 

I believe that everyone is innately musical in some sort of capacity, especially with having the voice as their first instrument. I think it’s a great gateway into being able to create music. So that’s why I think I also just stuck with singing for a long time.

Do you have a favorite class you’ve taken in the major?

I have a lot of favorite classes, but most recently, I’d say, last semester I took Teaching and Learning A, which focuses on elementary music methods. So essentially, like, preparing us to teach elementary general music. 

I never thought that I would enjoy being an elementary school teacher; my priority has always been in secondary, like middle in high school, but I loved our professor, Dr. Vanessa Bond, who was super passionate about exposing kids to music and various forms at such a young age. I think that in general music, there’s so many opportunities to just cover, like, the broadness of music. So I really love that class and it made me feel more equipped to teach that age level.

You’re also the president of Rowan’s NAfME chapter – could you describe your responsibilities in that role?

So as [National Association for Music Education] NAfME president, I’m mainly in charge of executing and delegating where the club kind of goes for the year. So we have a lot of events that are typically like traditions that we continue to do, like our welcome back barbecue for the whole department of music – even outside of music ed –  like all of Wilson Hall. And a lot of the college of performing arts.

What do club meetings look like?

So for our general meetings, a lot of times we have students kind of bring in their own … We call them “musical moments”, where they’re just different activities that you would use in the classroom, which gives our peers an extra opportunity to teach in a very low stress environment where you’re not being graded or anything. You’re just trying out a lesson plan or an activity that you would bring into the classroom, which is a nice way to start bonding and also, like I said before, just an opportunity to teach. 

Arianna sings from a musical score.

And then on other meetings we have professional developments where guest speakers come in, who are music ed professionals in the area. We’ve had some come from out of state like Delaware who basically come in, and they specialize in a specific area where the Rowan community will reach out and be like, hey, we want to see a professional development (PD) on gender in the classroom, or gender in the choral classroom. And then as the eboard, we would find a speaker who specializes in that and they would come in and talk about it. 

We also have other events – we go to the New Jersey music ed convention every year which is a great opportunity to network with current music educator professionals. And also there’s a ton of guest speakers there where we’re able to also just learn and grow at that conference.

What’s a PD?

So, PD’s stand for professional developments, where it’s essentially just where the guest speakers come in and interact with us. Half of it is usually a lecture, but there’s always an interactive part where we’re able to do something hands-on, or have a Q&A or something.

Could you tell us about your involvement in Rowan’s Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship?

Sure! So that group I also found my freshman year. I joined Chi Alpha just cause … I actually didn’t grow up Christian at all, but my friend started going and I was just super curious about faith and all of that. So I started going, and it was a community that I loved to just get to know. They were very welcoming to everyone and super open to hearing questions that I was, you know, typically afraid to ask in any other church environment. It’s an incredible community of peers, and I truly think of them as my family. That was like the first community where I was able to ask questions and just kind of figure out my faith for myself. 

So after a while I became a Christian. Not through anybody pressuring me, of course. But [the] community was a huge part of that. And then after a while, I decided I wanted to be a leader in that capacity.

Could you describe what the fellowship does, and your role as a leader?

So in Chi Alpha, I’d say for Thursdays, that’s considered our large group event where essentially our campus pastor, Carl – he’s super great – he typically leads those nights or we have guest preachers, whether it’s [someone] in the staff or other people. There’s a lot of other Christian groups on campus that we interact with a lot.

I co-lead a small group which is essentially like a bible study, but also just kind of like hanging out and doing discussions [of] scripture and discussions of life and other topics. And also helping out with different events that we do. Recently we did a 5K fundraiser for missions and different parts of the world. 

We do a lot of events just to kind of serve the campus too. [In the] beginning of the school year, we did free first day of school portraits where we set up at the owl statue and people were walking by on their first day of school. They could just send that to their parents or just have it as a memory. [We do] other events just to serve the campus, like free hot chocolate. Stuff like that.

Arianna walks outside Wilson Hall.

What’s your role in the Profecy A Cappella club?

For this semester, I was just elected president. I think I’ve been in the group for about a year now. There are two a cappella groups on campus, one is Rowan Vocals. That would be all voice parts: soprano, alto, tenor, bass. This one, Profecy is a tenor, bass a cappella group for lower voices. 

What I love about this group is that most of the group, besides myself and a few others, are non-music majors. So it’s a great environment just to walk into where I’m making music, not for a grade, [but] just to have fun with other people. 

As president, similar to what I do with NAfME, a lot of what I do is just kind of delegating and executing the goals for the year, and also finding events for us to perform at.

Is a cappella a big scene in the music industry?

I’d say as of recently, definitely. Especially in music education. Actually, at our conference this year, there was a huge focus on a cappella groups, which I have not seen in the past. I think, especially in the choral world, It’s a great opportunity to kind of bring popular music into the classroom [while] still focusing on proper vocal technique and learning how to read music and learning how music functions, especially when you become the instrument. It’s an incredible way to still focus on growing as a musician and learn more about music, but it’s also super fun because it’s about popular music.

Do you feel that participating in these groups has helped you form a support group while at Rowan?

Definitely, yeah. I think that especially with the a cappella group and NAfME, I feel very connected to a lot of Wilson [Hall], a lot of the music department. I feel like I know a lot more faces that I wouldn’t have known if I wasn’t a part of those clubs. And even with Rowan Chi Alpha – that’s kind of my one club that’s not directly related to music –  I feel like I’m able to branch out to other parts of Rowan and get to hear about other people’s days, about Rowan as a community. And it’s super cool, like, a lot of them come to my shows, like concerts and performances, so it’s great to have a community that’s outside of music supporting what I do in music as well.

Arianna sifts through some musical scores.

Have you had any mentors here at Rowan?

I’d say Dr. Bond, who I talked about before, and also Dr. Christopher Thomas, who’s the Director of Choral Activities. He was our New Jersey All-State Choir – so, in high school, there’s different regional choirs that you can audition to be a part of – for my junior year, he was the guest conductor. And that was also my first year being a part of the All-State choir. 

Just seeing how he worked with the choir, the repertoire he picked, and just everything about how he led rehearsals was incredible to see. I ended up doing a shadow day at Rowan, which was great to see the community and be a part of the culture here, and seeing again how he leads rehearsals and how he interacts with students was super encouraging. 

Oh, and I did the Rowan Choir Camp. They have a music camp here where they have choral focused bands, instrumental, and even music industry which is super cool. But I did the choir camp with him where he led it, and I just knew after all those experiences of getting to work with him that I wanted to continue to study under him. And how he shaped me today as a choral teacher and as a conductor and as a musician, I’m very glad that I chose Rowan for that reason.

Any advice for future music education majors?

I’d say, for music majors in general, just to get involved with as much as possible and take opportunities both inside Rowan and outside. Rowan itself has a lot of connections, especially being so close to Philadelphia – there’s a ton of jazz musician opportunities. We’re closely linked to Opera Philadelphia, and even just the music industry. So, both getting involved with gigs outside of Rowan and taking advantage of opportunities here on campus would be my biggest piece of advice.

Is there anything you want to share on the importance of recognizing female contributions to music?

Yeah, I think recently both in vocal and instrumental at Rowan, there’s been a recent … urgency, I’d say, to focus on women in music and female composers, especially bringing forgotten compositions back into the light. This year, most of my repertoire has been by female composers, which a lot of them you see in history were directly in correlation with, like, Franz Schubert or Beethoven and Mozart, who are big names in music that are traditional classical composers. 

But also seeing the female composers who existed at the same time as them and wrote basically just as incredible compositions … And because they were working together, because they were colleagues, bringing that into an equal light as their master works has been super cool and something that Rowan especially has prioritized both in the vocal world and instrumental.

Arianna sits at a piano with musical scores.

Editor’s note: We featured Arianna as she began her journey here at Rowan. Read that article here.

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Story by:
Joseph Conte, junior community planning and GIS double major

Photos by:
Valentina Giannattasio, sophomore dance and marketing double major

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