What music are the Lions listening to?

What music are the Lions listening to?

Kate Beckler , Staff Writer

Does someone’s taste in music say something about their personality? “Absolutely,” Naz Yetis (11) said. So, what does the Upper Division (UD) listen to?

Although she does not have one favorite song or artist, Leah Marquardt (10) gravitates towards upbeat hip-hop and pop music. She enjoys listening to “The Spins” by Mac Miller, “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure, and “These Days” by Wallows. Each of them have different instrumental and lyrical styles, reflecting Marquardt’s moods.

Yetis’ taste also spans many genres, she said. Like Marquardt, it depends on her mood. Her favorite song at the moment is “Harbor” by Clairo. It has a slow melody, beautiful lyrics, and a peaceful vibe. 

Raven Bai (11) curates her listening based on what she’s in the mood for. “I like to listen to a bit of everything, whatever feels right in the moment, I’ll play it,” she said. If she needs to wind down before bed, she’ll listen to calm instrumentals like the Studio Ghibli soundtracks or soft, comfort music by Cavetown. If she needs a boost of energy, she’ll listen to heavier and upbeat tunes—like rock or heavy metal by System of a Down, Lovejoy and Hiatus Kaiyote.

As one might expect from the Music Department Chair, Timothy Ho’s taste spans all across the board. Since he grew up in Hawaii, Ho enjoys Hawaiian music, especially the Brothers Cazimero. His favorite artist is the blues and folk singer Nina Simone and he also listens to choral and pop music, often based on students’ recommendations. “I’ve discovered lots of groups that way,” he said. ,“As I get older, it’s harder to stay current.”  

English teacher Rebecca Bahr gets music recommendations from her husband, the root of her love for Latin jazz. Her all time favorite, however, is the classic jazz song “Summertime.” “I love the song itself, the words, the feeling of it, the beauty of it, the way it’s been covered in so many different ways,” she said. “I’ve always sung it for auditions for groups, so it’s sort of embedded with me.” She even sung a rendition of it with fellow English teacher Harry Bauld at a music week performance last year.

While music often drifts by in the background — on the bus, in the shower — it comes into the foreground as a way to bond with and learn about other people.

When Yetis shares her music taste with someone, it’s easier to find common interests to talk about. Someone’s music taste often reflects who they are as a person, she said. “If I go through your playlist and only find songs that are trending on TikTok, then I am going to assume that you spend most of your time on the internet — which is not necessarily a bad thing.”

Avi Rao (12) also said that knowing what people listen to can change his perspective of them. After all, there is agency behind every playlist since the individual chooses each selection.

Rao listens to all sorts of genres, from hip-hop to classic rock, but if he had to choose a favorite, it would be Argentinian rock, with bands such as Soda Stereo. His love for the genre began last year, in his Studies in Spanish class taught by World Languages Department Chair Maria del Pilar Valencia, he said.  Even though he can’t understand all of Soda Stereo’s lyrics because they are in Spanish, their style has a similar vibe to American rock bands from the 80s and 90s like Nirvana.

As people evolve, so do their music tastes. Favorite songs fade like a worn sweater, still holding the scent of its years. Albums you played on repeat rust into a time capsule of memories, only unlocked by that sequence of notes like a passcode. Artists you once adored, now as familiar and foreign as an old friend.

Yetis’ love for music stems from her childhood. She began her journey with hit songs by Taylor Swift and Sabrina Carpenter. Since then, her love of music has increased exponentially, and while she still listens to the artists she loved as a child, her list of favorites continues to grow. “I like to go on Spotify and look at random artists and just try to find music that I like,” she said. 

Rao’s current style also grew from the songs he grew up listening to. “I used to listen to mostly classic rock,” he said. “From there, it branched off as people introduced me to stuff or stuff I found online.”

Students are not the only ones whose music taste has expanded since they were kids. “As I have gotten older and I’ve lived in lots of places, studied more and more music throughout my life, and my own tastes have been more refined,” Ho said. Still, the influence of childhood remains: in all the music he listens to, Ho finds himself looking for Hawaiian musical characteristics that remind him of his younger years. For example, his love for lyrics and melodies are key elements to Hawaiian music.

Similarly, math teacher Varun Prabakar’s taste in music has expanded with age, he said. “I started listening to [System of a Down] when I was thirteen in my rebellious teen phase,” he said. Now, he loves genres like rap and hip-hop and pays more attention to song lyrics.“I used to just rock out to songs because I liked the beat and jam, and then later on I would find out the lyrics said things I didn’t agree with or support.”

Science teacher George Epstein’s love for comes from his father, Doug Epstein, a former music teacher at Horace Mann. Music permeated his home life. “It never felt like a real holiday unless someone broke out an instrument or we started singing,” he said. 

English teacher Dr. Deborah Kassel’s ’84, love for classical music traces back to her childhood — her grandfather was an avid classical music listener and opera fan. He could have even sung opera, she said. Now, she listens to music all the time, even when she is working in the English office. She loves the Baroque period and German Romanticism; one of her favorite songs is the “Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto 2 in C Minor,” a beautiful piece for piano and orchestra composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff. 

Classical music and opera are not the only genres that Kassel listens to. She loves the Beatles and also likes disco and classic rock, with bands like Earth, Wind, and Fire and The B-52’s — the 80s group was the music of her generation, she said.

Music abounds in the English office; Bahr also likes to listen as she works. “When I’m grading papers or something, I’ll listen to non vocal jazz like piano jazz or guitar jazz, because I find it stimulating but not distracting.”

Vinyls, cassettes, MP3 players, iPods; music machines from years past have become obsolete. In their place, mobile devices make a world’s worth of tunes accessible with a tap of someone’s keys. 

Yetis creates playlists on Spotify that reflect her moods, she said. She shuffles playlists, but listens to albums top to bottom. “When an album is in order, the songs make sense because the artist wanted it that way,” she said.

Bai also uses Spotify to expand her music knowledge. “I start with a song that I know and like but then find a radio on Spotify with songs similar to them,” she said.

Barr does not create her own playlists, but she does listen to the radio — through the World Radio app on her phone. “I can go to Nigeria and listen to whatever is playing at a local station there,” she said. 

When Ho is not on Spotify or Apple Music, he listens to whatever is trending, he said. “I have my Alexa set up right next to where I’m cooking, so I’ll just say, ‘play the Billboard Top 10.’”

Back in the hallways of Tillinghast, songs drift in and out of earshot. “When I get out of class, I put my headphones back on and continue where I left off,” Bai said.