THE PRESIDENT’S VIEW – SUMMER 2016
Since time immemorial, music has been an integral part of human civilization. Ancient Greek philosophers believed that music directly affected ethos, or one’s ethical character. Specifically, Plato, founder of the Academy in Athens—the first institution of higher learning in the Western world—argued that the right kind of music disciplined the mind and aroused temperance and courage, and thus played an important role in education. I would argue that those three virtues—discipline, temperance, and courage—accurately characterize the ideal Norwich graduate.
I know from my own experience as a percussionist in my high school marching band and as the leader of an all-male choral group at the Coast Guard Academy that music teaches important lessons about teamwork, leadership, and discipline. I believe that this latter virtue, discipline, is the main reason Band Company consistently has the highest GPA among our student body. Pupils who, from a young age, understand the value of practicing for a performance (i.e., preparing for the “test”), ultimately become some of our best students.
While we do not currently have a music major at Norwich, we boast a strong STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program, and the correlation between STEM and music has been well documented. Albert Einstein said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.”
Since the founding of our band—our nation’s first collegiate band—music has remained deeply ingrained in Norwich culture. It takes on myriad forms, from the cadences heard around the UP, to the chiming of the carillon, to Paula Gills’ powerful rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” at Cadets home athletic contests.
Music has become an integral part of our athletic traditions, the most obvious manifestation perhaps being Saturday afternoon march-downs to Sabine Field before Cadets football games. Our men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, and lacrosse teams warm up to recordings of their favorite artists blasting over loudspeakers. In Kreitzberg Arena, a select playlist keeps the crowd entertained between the tweet of the referee’s or linesman’s whistle and the next puck-drop. And at the Dog River pitch, a bagpiper has often led our men’s rugby team out onto the field.
Elsewhere on campus, music manifests itself on the airwaves of WNUB 24 hours a day, in the Pegasus Players’ annual “Battle of the Voices” competition, in our fall and spring band concerts, and during the Regimental, Navy/Marine, and Junior Ring balls.
Indeed, musical traditions abound at Norwich—some as old as the university itself. Every morning, the Corps is still roused from their racks by “Reveille,” and every evening, turns in when hearing “Tattoo.”
If you have ever felt goose bumps while listening to “Echo Taps,” or become misty-eyed at the singing of “Norwich Forever,” I know this issue of the Record will bring back fond musical memories of your time on the Hill.
Richard W. Schneider
RADM, USCGR (Ret.)