March 23, 2021
Garrett Groesbeck

On Friday, March 12, the EALC Japanese program hosted a workshop with ethnomusicologist and Miyagi-style koto player Garrett Groesbeck. Garrett introduced the world of koto music, discussed the history of sokyou (koto music), and performed several pieces. 

Garrett said of the event: "I am really grateful for the opportunity to have led this workshop and introduced a brief history of the koto. The students who participated had more background information about Japanese music than I did as an undergraduate, and I was really impressed by their questions and engagement!

When I was an undergraduate student, majoring in music but minoring in Japanese, I had access to coursework about many different areas of Japanese culture, but not Japanese music. I was lucky that my study-abroad school in Tokyo had a very active and welcoming koto club, where I first started playing the instrument. Learning the koto gave me a great motivation to deepen my Japanese language studies and later go on to study at Nagoya College of Music as a MEXT scholar, and many of my closest friends in Japan are people I met through music.

I hope that this workshop gave students a glimpse of some of the different ways that their Japanese language studies might connect to other areas of interest in the future! Five Colleges Consortium has a number of amazing ethnomusicology faculty, including specialists in Japanese music, and I hope that students also have the opportunity to work with them at some point and benefit from their expertise."

Garrett invited the audience to sing along with him to “Chidori no Kyoku”, a song based on two selections of classical poetry. After performing each song, Garrett asked students for their thoughts and feedback. Students found similarities to Chinese cultural music and Asian pop culture as well. Overall, students found this event extremely interactive and fascinating!