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Instrumental Learning

This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.

Instrumental Learning

The Arts and Lectures program is striking a chord on campus, with offerings so varied that even those who can’t carry a tune are taking note.

“The appeal is far-reaching, whether you want to learn a new skill or develop an existing skill, or find out how business is very much a part of the art world,” says Adam Payne (pictured above), whose gig as assistant director of student activities includes directing the Arts and Lectures Program and the Bowles Performing Arts Series. “People have the power to choose how they want to enrich themselves and their overall cultural awareness.”

Programming ranges from live music concerts to workshops on songwriting to lectures by experts on topics such as neuroscience and photography.  

“Learning about the music business was interesting and made me think about how our Bentley education could be put to use in the industry,” says Rachel Dempsey ’14, an Information Design and Corporate Communication major who attended a presentation by music industry professionals and went on to join guitar and photography workshops.

The diverse bill reflects Payne’s own unconventional path in the arts. A classically trained vocalist, he tracks his early inspiration to Saturday morning cartoons, whose music he mimicked on the family piano. Adding guitar and drums to his repertoire, he developed an eclectic style that fuses funk, R&B, folk and acoustic.   

Setting the Stage

An eight-year Bentley veteran, Payne took charge of arts programming in 2011. He built on the Bowles Performing Arts Series, created by his predecessor, Jim Morris, and on the English Department’s Creative Writers Forum.

“Jim is responsible for so much positive change in the area of the arts on this campus,” says Payne, who collaborated with Morris on programs such as Mixed, a one-person play on the multiracial experience.

The Arts and Lectures lineup has grown to include a Friday afternoon Concert Series, Live Music Series, Lectures Program, and Arts Workshop Series. This fall introduced Arts Instructors-in-Residence: a series of weekly campus visits by painters, singers, musicians and others who offer individual and group lessons in their specialty.

Chorus of Benefits

Music seems to have benefits that reverberate beyond personal growth. Research by the Mind– Body Wellness Center at Pennsylvania-based Meadville Medical Center suggests that playing an instrument can improve the American workplace by reducing stress, depression and burnout among employees. The reason? Rhythmic therapy provides an outlet for self-expression.

The resounding impact of the arts comes as no surprise to Payne.

“We live in an extremely complex world, and people rely on the development of transferable skills to help meet demands,” he says. “Exposure to the arts encourages people to think about our world in different ways and be more open to different perspectives. It helps us make connections with others and contribute to something greater than ourselves.”

 

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