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Can music be funny?

To Ben Kaye-Skinner, anything can be funny and a lot of things in this world can be music.

Ben’s a combination of that kid you remember from high school.

He’s that kid who took piano lessons (but at age 7 preferred to write his own music rather than practice someone else’s.)

That kid who lived for marching band and show choir.

But he’s also that kid who made everyone laugh.

That kid who had his own band (maybe not record-deal good, but definitely garage-band good.)

And that brainy kid who collected awards and academic merits.

The 2008 graduate in music came to Doane because he was so impressed by the college band director and a call he made to Ben’s mother explaining why he really, really needed Ben at Doane.

So Ben came, and Doane came to know Ben.

Officially, he played tuba, piano, trombone, French horn, clarinet and percussion in a number of college organizations. Unofficially, he was the student with an unbelievable ear for the depth of music. A prolific student composer.

But he’s also the first student conductor to ask if he could put the pep band in kilts. And the one who created music of humor and whimsy, like Tuo Edisni (Inside Out), or Eucant (You Can’t) March.

Like Ben, college wasn’t all music.

His short, long list of activities includes Alpha Pi Epsilon fraternity, Music Educators National Conference, Student Education Association, residence hall councils, Honors Program, Doane media, Doane Players and the academic honorary Sigma Delta Pi.

Despite that list, he occasionally had free time.

Naturally, he used it to organize dorm Olympics. To see how many people fit in a dorm room (turns out 25.) To throw a simultaneous Star Wars party (six screens of Star Wars movies.) To write blogs entitled “Raise your hand if you dropped a piano on your foot” and “How to find a bad movie.”

He also found time to compose 17 orchestral works during his years at Doane, works he self-describes as a range from “the serene and pensive to uncomfortable and uproarious.”

Looking back, he says, somehow, Doane was the perfect fit, from the interterm trips to Mexico to the Symphonic Wind Ensemble’s performance at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

He liked that professors who only taught him for nine weeks in 2004 still greeted him by name in 2008.

Ben will be creating his own unique world of music in middle- and high- school classrooms. All his possible roads seemed to lead back to memories of a favorite music teacher his junior year of high school, a young teacher just out of college who made music fun.

He wants to be that teacher for a few years, someone who believes that music education should be spontaneous. Someone who, at least for now, shares his students' taste for ipod shuffles and ringtones.

Eventually he wants to “compose music to pay the bills and teach for fun.”

With Ben, could it be anything but fun?

Related Links:
Ben's Web site
Ben's MySpace
Ben's FaceBook
Doane's Music Department

Ben
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