"Meet Our Students" Ben Rosenblum (CC'16)

What year are you at Columbia?

Columbia College, ’16.

What are you majoring in?


How long have you been a participant of the MPP?

I have been participating in the MPP since my freshman year here.  I began with the MPP in the big band jazz ensemble my first year, and I have been participating in the jazz program ever since.  I have also performed in the Columbia-Juilliard showcases since my junior year.

How have you benefited by MPP programs and performance opportunities?

The MPP does a fantastic job of providing performance opportunities to its students, both through its formal classes (chamber groups, jazz ensembles, orchestra, vocal groups, and many more), its informal events, and the many gigs that it relays to its students.  Importantly for me, since my junior year, I have been the president of a student group for jazz on campus called the Jazz House.  The MPP has been incredibly supportive, and has helped us book performance spaces, schedule rehearsal times, and reach out to a wider audience for our events.  Many of the people who work in the MPP office have personally attended our student-run events, and I am always made aware of just how much they genuinely care about the success of our projects.  I know that no matter how ambitious my ideas are for the Jazz House, the MPP will be there to assist us and encourage us.  

Any tips on how a student might be able to fully take advantage of all the musical offerings at Columbia?

A great place to start taking advantage of the musical offerings at Columbia is through the formal classes in the MPP, and through the already established musical groups on campus (Bach society, a capella group, Varsity show and many more).  This is a great way to begin to get involved, and to meet other students that want to pursue music as well.  Once you know some members of the music community here, you can begin doing your own projects collaborating with these people.  And once you have a clear notion of what you want to do, go to the MPP and see how they can help you!

How do you balance the busy academic schedule with practice time? any tips?

Since I entered college, my plan has been to be a professional jazz musician.  With this in mind, I have planned out my four years so that I have never had to take more than four academic classes per semester.  I know this does not work for all majors and all people’s interests, but for me it has ensured that I have had enough time to practice through my whole time at Columbia.  I have also tried to make sure that I am always forced to participate in many musical situations (whether through scheduled classes, leading a Special Interest Community where I am required to program concerts, joining various people’s bands, accepting gigs, etc).  This way, even if I do not get as much practice time as I want, I make sure that I am always playing. 

What was the most memorable musical experience in your life?

I have been fortunate enough to have had a number of incredible musical experiences, both as a performer and as a spectator.  Many of these experience have involved seeing or performing with jazz legends who unfortunately have passed away in the past ten years.  I had the pleasure of performing with the late great Phil Woods, and I had the privilege of performing at Lincoln Center with a Brazilian Orchestra on the same billing as the late great Dave Brubeck.  I got to see Mulgrew Miller, Cedar Walton, Charlie Haden, Hank Jones and many others before they died.  I have also had many great experiences with living and currently active groups.  This past summer, I performed at the Richmond Jazz Festival with Thelonious Monk’s son, T.S. Monk, and I also performed at Lincoln Center Out of Doors for 8,000 people alongside a Cuban Boogaloo group.

What does making music mean to you?

Music is my life, so it is difficult for me to articulate everything that music means to me.  At the very least I can say that music has taught me how to be happy, and I hope that my music will make other people happy as well.  And the people I know through playing music are some of the most extraordinary people I have ever met.

Anything you would like to share with the readers? (favorite food, Summer activities, favorite quote, etc)

Stop by our next Jazz House event and introduce yourself to me!  I’m always looking to meet more people who love music, and I always learn from talking with people who have a different perspective on music than I do.  For more information about what I do with the Jazz House, visit http://columbiajazzhouse.webs.com/.