Jessica Rudman, Composition and Theory; Chair, Creative Studies
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Jessica Rudman

Composition and Theory; Chair, Creative Studies

Jessica RudmanNYC-based composer Jessica Rudman, Ph.D., has written music for the concert hall, dance, and film, which has been presented across the United States and in France, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.  Her works have been included on festivals such as the Omaha Symphony New Music Symposium, Composers Now, New Voices at The Catholic University of America, the Ernest Bloch Festival, the Electro-Acoustic Barn Dance, the International Alliance for Women in Music International Congress, and various Society of Composers conferences. Rudman has been the recipient of honors such as winning the 2013 Boston Metro Opera’s Advocacy Award, the 2012 College Music Society National Conference Student Composition Award, 2012 NewMusic@ECU Orchestral Composition Competition at East Carolina University, the Libby Larsen Prize (2011), and Honorable Mention for the 2011 Brian M. Israel Award. Additionally, her work Napoleon Complex was awarded first prize in the 2009 Con/un/drum Percussion Competition.

Highly involved in the new music community as a concert organizer and music educator, Rudman is the Vice President of the Women Composers Festival of Hartford, for which she was a co-recipient of a Women’s Education and Leadership Fund Grant in 2007. She has served as the Composition Academy Coordinator for the Seasons Festival in Washington and done administrative work for The Phoenix Concerts in NYC and Wintergreen Performing Arts in Virginia. She has been a faculty member at Central Connecticut State University, The Hartt School (Collegiate and Community Divisions), and Baruch College.

As a theorist, Rudman has presented her paper “Hidden Complexity: Rhythmic Processes in Ligeti’s Arc-en-ciel” at meetings of the New England Conference of Music Theorists (NECMT), the West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis, and the SCI Region V conference. She has also presented analytical research on Ellen Taaffe Zwilich at the 2014 Society for American Music Conference, the 2013 National Student Electronic Music Event, the 2013 meeting of NECMT, and other conferences. In Fall 2014, she gave a paper on the Greek genera at the European Musical Analysis Conference in Belgium.

Rudman holds a B.A. with Distinction in Music from the University of Virginia, an M.M. in Music Composition from The Hartt School, and an A.D. in Music Composition, also from Hartt. In 2015, she completed her Ph.D. at the City University of New York, where she was awarded an Enhanced Chancellor’s Fellowship. 

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching approach focuses on fostering three essential qualities in my students: creativity, critical thinking, and curiosity. Creativity is an obvious necessity in composition. Developing one’s voice involves always expanding one’s awareness of different music and musical theories, all of which contribute to the pool of intuition one draws on when composing. It also requires a supportive environment in which to experiment and explore new ideas and techniques. I also emphasize the importance of getting one’s music performed, as working with live performers and hearing one’s music realized is the best way to improve one’s composing skills. I oversee opportunities for performance and readings, including the HICO residency where professional players are provided to the students or other concerts where students perform their own music.

Creativity should also be highlighted throughout a student’s music theory education. When I teach music theory, I incorporate compositional work as much as possible. Participating in the creative process deepens one’s appreciation for and understanding of music, something that has profound benefits for musicians of all specializations. Yet creativity in music theory courses should not be limited to compositional exercises; creativity should also be stressed in relation to theoretical concepts and musical analysis. I guide students to approach theoretical and analytical issues from new angles and explore other perspectives they might not have considered. Beyond teaching the technical tools necessary for analyzing music, I encourage students to consider the music from a compositional and perceptual point of view. I ask students to think about what other options existed at striking moments of the music to fully appreciate the composer’s decisions and their aural effect on the listener. 

This is strongly intertwined with my next focus, critical thinking: evaluating options, recognizing the effects of different actions, perceiving and conceiving of long-term structure, and making decisions. Active listening is a main element of my approach, and I frequently use students’ observations of representative musical examples as starting points for the discussion of new topics. Similarly, I try to build on students’ preexisting knowledge whenever possible. Encouraging them to think critically about ideas and techniques, draw conclusions based on informed evaluation, and build on concepts with which they are already familiar not only maintains students’ interest, but also results in better understanding and retention of the course material.  

Critical thinking and creativity are closely related to the third quality I try to pass on to my students: curiosity. Each of my various research projects and a number of my compositions have grown out of a desire to figure something out or try something new, and I want that type of curiosity to motivate my own students in terms of exploring different styles of music, theoretical ideas, and professional activities. I introduce students to music they may not otherwise encounter while also encouraging them to ask questions and pursue their own unique musical interests. 

The qualities and skills I impart to my students are vital for a musical career as well as other musical and non-musical paths. I foster a deep sense of engagement with music while challenging the students to grow and improve. I have high expectations for my students and am eager to support them as they undertake their coursework and embark on their futures.