Orchestra During Coronavirus

By Sara Avery

Blackboard Collaborate is the new home of the Hampton University Chamber Orchestra (HUCO) amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Despite being virtual, students say that Orchestra Director, Jerry Bracey, has made the online environment successful.

"I feel Professor Bracey is truly doing the best he can given the circumstances," said Christian Peterson, a senior violinist. "I feel like it's been successful. I really don't know how he could make the situation better, because it's already hard doing it virtually."

While HUCO students are accustomed to playing "difficult" pieces like Symphony No. 38 by Joseph Haydn, they are using this time to go back to the basics, spending all of class and practice time on scales and arpeggios.

Although this may seem simple for a college-level ensemble, Bracey said that it is not in vain.

"Scales help students perform a musical selection better by knowing the key and the makeup of that composition. If they can play scales and sight read, it makes the music easier," he said. "Without scales, you would have no center."

While Bracey has adjusted to his new classroom, he is looking forward to meeting in-person again because he misses hands-on instruction with the students.

"To be able to go through the sections, give different advice, or just be able to coach the students, [virtual class] doesn't have the same quality," he said. "The virtual is okay, but I prefer the real in-person approach." Hannah Selders, a freshman violinist, agrees and can't wait to have in-person orchestra because she feels like she's missing out on building connections.

"I want to get connected with the people in orchestra more. It has been a little tough because everything is virtual," she said. "We're only talking in the group chat when an announcement gets sent out. It would be cool if we could talk and just check-in on one another."

Selders, who graduated from a performance arts high school, said that although HUCO is focusing on the basics, the class is still exceeding her expectations.

"This is what I was expecting. It's a little more actually," she said. "I thought we would just be playing songs. I was not expecting us to be doing basic things, but I think it's a good thing that we're doing it. People have different levels coming in, so we have to be understanding of that."

While she enjoys the current class set-up, she also has some suggestions on how to improve it.

"I think we'll get more done if we get an assignment at the beginning of the week and get two class periods to practice, then come back together to see where we are," Selders said.

Christopher Edwards, a junior violinist, also believes that some changes can be made.

"I would pick one person in each section to lead breakout groups and plan some type of online sectional," he said.

However, he is hopeful for the rest of the semester, and believes that with cooperation, it will all work out. "I think that we have the potential to be a great orchestra," he said. "If we just focus, set our mind straight, and keep practicing our scales, hopefully this will be a great semester."

Childish Gambino releases fourth studio album: 3.15.20

Barry Jones | Hampton Script Staff Writer

Coming off (arguably) his biggest year in 2018, Gambino has finally returned to deliver his fourth studio album, 3.15.20. Named after the date it was released, the Atlanta musician took the internet by storm by randomly releasing the project via a website titled "Donaldgloverpresents.com." The album was playing continuously on this website from March 15 to March 16 and was removed suddenly with no warning.

Six days later, the album hit all digital streaming platforms – still with minimal promotion – and came to a surprise to most. If you're wondering what to expect from this album, the rollout says a lot about Gambino's intentions. The surprise drop seems to be intentional as it defies all traditional release tactics coming off a No. 1 single as Gambino did in 2018 with "This is America."

If you're familiar with Gambino, this is not surprising. Through his music and creative expression, he refuses time and time again to be defined by industry standards and norms. As for timing, it couldn't have come at a better time. Everyone across the country is stuck in the house looking for anything new to engage in when it comes to content.

"Marketing wise, this is a great time to drop music," Hampton University junior Sevaughn Coates said.

For more on this story, go to Hampton Script.

Same script, different cast: How mainstream award shows continuously snub Black artists

By Jordan Sheppard | Hampton Script Staff Writer

"For years we've allowed institutions that have never had our best interests to judge us, and that stops right now. I am officially starting a clock. Y'all got 365 days to get this together," said Diddy as he accepted the Clive Davis Icon Award, at Clive Davis' annual Pre-Grammy Gala.

Outraged by the treatment of black artists by the award show, the three-time Grammy winner threatened to boycott if the Recording Academy doesn't seek to make change within the next year.

Coming just days after the Recording Academy's former CEO and President, Deborah Dugan, had alleged that the Grammys' nomination system is rigged, the award show has begun to take a lot of heat.

Tyler, the Creator, who took home the trophy for Best Rap Album for his LP Igor, also had a few words on the treatment of black artists.

In a backstage interview, Tyler stated that while he was grateful for the award, he does not appreciate how the Grammys always place black artists in "rap or urban categories" no matter how "genre-bending" their records are.

For more on this story, visit Hampton Script.

Hampton University Concert Choir Presents MLK Jr. Freedom Choral Concert Series

By Allyson Edge | Hampton Script Staff Writer

In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Hampton University Concert Choir in conjunction with the Elizabeth City State University Concert Choir hosted a MLK Jr. Freedom Choral Concert Series Jan. 19 in Ogden Hall.

The angelic voices of each choir filled the room with sounds of hope, faith and freedom. A few of the songs on the set list were, "Hear My Prayer" by Moses Hogan, "All My Trials" by Norman Luboff, "I Want to Die Easy" arranged by Roland M. Carter and "Let All the World in Every Corner Sing" by Ryan Murphy. Given the titles of these pieces, the message of the concert is appropriately executed.

According to first-year Hampton student and biology pre-med major, Brevyn Belfield, the African American hymns and "negro spirituals denote a story about black culture, black history and what African Americans dealt with."

For more on this story, visit Hampton Script here.

Hampton U.’s virtuoso violinist, Promise [really]

By Ashante Travis

After gaining some recent exposure, a promising instrumentalist and student from Hampton Roads is determined -- and ready -- to show the world what music is all about.

Promise Paulden, a junior music performance major at Hampton University, has been playing the violin since she was 3 years old. Her parents decided to invest in her musical abilities after seeing their baby girl use a pencil to strum a comb. Young Promise was given a violin instructor and was taught through the Suzuki program for 12 years thereafter.

The Suzuki Association of America is a coalition of teachers, parents, educators and friends who are interested in making music education available to all children. The organization has a distinct teaching approach that places emphasis on parent involvement, love, encouragement, and constant repetition. Through this method, students are trained to master techniques by listening to music and imitating what they hear and then later learning to read music.

The Suzuki program is particularly known for producing very diligent and highly developed students, like 19-year-old Paulden, who transferred from Virginia Wesleyan College to Hampton University last year.

Paulden is a violinist in the Hampton University Orchestra and meets with her instructor, Assistant Professor Jerry A. Bracey, once a week for an hour. Bracey is the director of both the Chamber Orchestra and the Jazz Ensemble says.

The university's music department prides itself on offering its music majors unique experiences where they can grow as artists, learners, and professionals. Paulden appreciates all that the campus offers and says her professors have been extremely encouraging.

"Professor Bracey has been super helpful to me," she says. "If I ever have problem, he is always there. He pushes me to the things I want to do. Dr. [Shelia J.] Maye has also been supportive. She made a way for me to play at two events on campus this year."

Maye, chairperson of the music department, afforded Paulden the opportunity to play the student's composition, "Hallelujah Medley," at the Winter Faculty Institute and then a rendition of the gospel song "Total Praise" at the annual Black Family Conference.

Paulden is evaluated weekly and therefore dedicates each day to perfecting her craft. In fact, she aims to practice at least five hours daily, in addition to maintaining her academic work and social life. In her free time, she is a gospel violinist -- which she loves -- and sometimes plays at other events for extra money. The self-assured player has additionally received much recognition on YouTube, where there are also videos of various performances.

Needless to say, juggling both music and school while simultaneously trying to enjoy life can be a challenge. Paulden says, "Normally I don't get to go to parties. I have to take time for my social life and my everyday life and dating. I'm used to being music-minded because it's always integrated into my personal life, and that's been a challenge for me.

"It's hard to turn the musician off."

But it seems as though Paulden's life is better with the music on.

She says plans to attend graduate school and recognizing that music is extremely interactive with our brains, says that her dream is to become a music therapist. Her goal in this profession would be to replace medicine with music and to help release people from mental problems and emotional stress. Last summer she actually helped a child with ADHD learn the violin.

Despite the challenges that accompany her craft, Paulden is focused on doing what she loves.

"I'm progressing as a musician, and I just like to play. It's great when someone tells me that they could feel what I just played or that the music spoke to them."

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

Inaugural hip-hop conference at Hampton U. campus

By Joseph Bose

On Feb. 12 Hampton University's School of Liberal Arts will be hosting its inaugural hip-hop conference called, "The Art of Hip Hop: Do You Still Love H.E.R.?" This event intends to give clarity to what hip hop truly is, what it stands for and how far it has came.

H.E.R. defined is "hearing every rhyme," a phrase attributed to rap artist Common.

Some of the key speakers that you'll be seeing include hip-hop artist Brandon "Real T@lk" Williams, poet and motivational speaker Karega Bailey, Erica "RivaFlowz" Buddington and WHOV-FM talk show host Wil LaVeist. Brandon "Real Talk" Williams was invited to Andre 3000's home in Atlanta and praised as a "lyrical genius" by the music star for his talent within hip-hop and poetry.

Speaker Karega Bailey of Sacramento, Calif., is a graduate of Hampton University and acquired his Master of Education in Special Education at George Mason University. He said he wants to make education within the inner city youth a priority, particularly in Special Education, with students diagnosed as emotionally disturbed. Hampton University is having this conference to let the community and world know that Hip-Hop is one of the most influential and society changing genres of music in today's world.

All of the speakers will be there for a simple reason: to enlighten the listeners on what not only hip-hop music is, but also what hip-hop culture is.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.