Chris Kelsey, longtime music teacher at Trinity-Pawling, has been passionate about music since he was a young boy. “I constantly heard music around the house when I was young,” Kelsey explains. “My father was a jazz musician so he was always practicing an instrument or listening to music. I knew I was going to be a musician–that is, if my plan for playing shortstop for the Mets didn’t work out (spoiler alert: it didn’t)”, Kelsey jests. While Kelsey didn’t make it on the Mets, he did find success and a passion for playing the saxophone, which he began at age 10, and decided to pursue music more seriously.
At Trinity-Pawling, Kelsey’s approach to teaching music is hands-on. “Music education is the ultimate in project-based learning,” Kelsey explains. “Generating enthusiasm and opening boys up to the joy of collective creation is paramount. I tend not to focus on attaining perfection. Music is marvelously subjective, which means there is ample room for everybody to contribute to the whole and make it stronger and better.”
Kelsey’s Winter Project this past term was designed to provide the boys with an opportunity to conceive and produce a multi-track recording for radio and present it on the air as guests on the Voices of Trinity-Pawling, a student-run weekly radio show on Pawling Public Radio. “I advised the boys that they should approach the experience as if they were a professional artist being interviewed about a new record release,” Kelsey says. “I didn’t give them a list of questions, but rather advised them to be ready to answer questions on their backgrounds, their musical influences, motivations for playing the type of music they play.” Kelsey adds, “Life isn’t a well organized, step by step process. It is rather–like the music we play–an improvisation.”
Watch the Winter Project radio show here.