Bernard Short, Ph.D.
UI School of Music: A safe place to grow and learn
What are you doing now?
Currently I am a Music Educator in the Matteson School District
What are your post-graduation goals and how did the University of Iowa School of Music help you prepare for them?
My goals are to acquire a college level teaching position and continue to have my music performed on both the national and international stage. Through learning from my lead professor and watching as he acquires both nation and international performances of his music I have been able to do the same. Internationally, I had a work world premiered in Mykonos, Greece, and this upcoming May I’ll have another piece have its world premiere in Alba, Italy.
Describe a particularly meaningful experience you had at UI.
My lead professor, Dr. David Gompper, told me that my music was too guarded, I need to open up and pour my pain into my music. I explained that I didn’t want to pull back the band-aids on my different wounds and expose my pain. His response to that statement was “but our pain is where our best music comes from.”
Even though I didn’t want to admit it I knew he was correct. So I did exactly as he instructed me to. I took the pain from helping my mother through her battle with stage two breast cancer, breaking up with my then fiancé, and maintaining all of my doctoral responsibilities and used them as inspiration to come up with my dissertation.
This inspiration lead me to research the 5 stages of grief, and ultimately helped me come up with the title Huzuni which is Swahili for grief. Throughout the compositional process of Huzuni I decided to take the listener through the 5 stages of grief that I was currently experiencing. An unexpected benefit from this journey was that I begin to find my voice; and in addition to that the whole process was very therapeutic. The end product of this journey was the creation of my best work and the release of very toxic emotions.
What do you love about the University of Iowa School of Music?
What I love about the University of Iowa School of Music is that it is a safe place to both grow and learn. As an African American male I experienced racism in Iowa City on a daily basis but I knew that once I walked into the School of Music I would be in a safe place where my creativity would be allowed to both flourish and grow.
What sets the UI School of Music apart from other music programs?
What sets the UI School of Music apart from other music programs is that it is a program that is focused around contemporary concepts and not old, outdated materials. Everything that I was exposed to was on the cutting edge of technology, which pushed me to evolve and move out of my comfort zone. This is the reason why I chose the University of Iowa and it is why I would advise all I meet to attend the school as well. The reason for this is because Iowa will prepare you for the world as it is today, not as it was 30 years ago.
Watch Dr. Short's composition dissertation Huzuni: