A Q&A with Director of Music Patrick Reardon

Learn more about Director of Music Patrick Reardon in this Q&A in which he talks about the music program at Porter’s, and why music and the arts are an essential part of education — and life.

You joined Porter's in 2017. What appealed to you about the school's music program?

The first thing that was evident upon my arrival to Porter's was that we have musicians of the highest caliber in our school. Walking through the music building on any given day, one might imagine Porter's to be a music conservatory. The skill and dedication of our musicians to their art is astounding, and I am inspired to work with them each day.

Tell us about the music program at Porter's. What opportunities do our students have to pursue their musical interests?
The beauty of the music program at Miss Porter's School is that it has the resources and flexibility to serve students' interests as they evolve over time. The entirety of the music program, from our ensembles, to our songwriting and composition class, to our advanced music theory class: Dissecting Masterworks, grants students the ability to make choices about what they study, what their goals are, and how best to accomplish them. Students here are not merely passengers on a staid sequence of courses — they are encouraged to take the reins of their learning to maximize their experience and ensure that what they do in music is meaningful in their lives.

How does Porter's music department appeal to and accommodate student musicians ranging from beginner to advanced?
Our curricular ensembles are open to musicians of every experience level. Students learn from their conductor, instrument-specific coaches, and each other. It is a regular occurrence at Porter's to have our highest-achieving musicians demonstrating and honing their skills by leading their peers in rehearsal. Our robust private lesson program is another accomodation which benefits students at all levels, from conservatory-bound seniors to students adding a secondary instrument or learning one for the first time.

What is your vision for the music department at Porter's?
My vision for the music department is to be a thriving center for musical activity that radiates throughout the school, our community, and the world. Within the program, musicians will experience music deeply through their own practice and performance, as well as by working with guest artists and capitalizing on our proximity to Hartford, New York, and Boston. Our students will approach their music education creatively, whether in composition, programming repertoire, or collaborations with other departments and disciplines. The Porter's music program will continue to be a place for everyone, recognizing that music is innate. Whether on the stage or in the audience, the music program adds immense value to a young person's education.

Why are music and the arts an important component of a student's education?
Music and the arts help us to connect to what it means to be human. To study painting is to learn how to truly see; to study music is to learn how to truly listen. Music and the arts help us to feel, to emote, and to connect to other people, places, and times. This is the purpose of education; as Webster's puts it, "To develop mentally, morally, or aesthetically." What the arts offer is not frivolous! According to an analysis by LinkedIn of hundreds of thousands of job postings, the most sought-after job skills, in order, were creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and time management. In the arts, those skills are inexorably tied to our disciplines and we are actively teaching them in our classes. Music and the arts are more than important, they are undeniably essential to an education.