Welcome to the seventh installment of Musician Origin Stories, a series in which musicians describe how they started down the path of music-making. 

Jessica is a composer whose path took a sharp turn (from astrophysics to music!) at the start of her college studies.

MW: When was the first time that you can remember feeling the impulse to become a musician?

Jessica Rudman: I was involved in music from a very early age since the school system in my town had a very strong marching band program, but I didn’t really consider it as a possible career until college. I grew up playing percussion and made some abortive attempts at composing, including a bet with my private teacher that I couldn’t write something he couldn’t play. (Not the best approach to composing, by the way!) My senior year in high school, I took AP Music Theory and had my first experiences with notation software. I start composing regularly then and haven’t stopped since.

MW: What moment/person/piece/etc. served as the catalyst for your starting down the path of a practicing musician?

Jessica Rudman: When I went to college, I was planning to major in astrophysics.  That lasted about one semester before I realized I couldn’t see myself doing it for the rest of my life. I had been taking music classes as electives and loved them. I switched my major and started on the path that eventually led to me becoming a composer.

MW: How did you proceed to become a musician?

Jessica Rudman: Growing up, I was very fortunate to go to schools where music was a priority. I took general music, band, and private lessons in percussion. I then went through a college music program and graduate school. I’ve studied with composers outside of any formal academic program and participated in a lot of summer music festivals and similar programs. I’m also a strong proponent for self-motivated learning throughout one’s career. Score and listening study, reading, and professional development activities are a big part of my daily life as a composer and help me to continue to grow as an artist.

Jessica Rudman is a Connecticut-based composer, theorist and teacher.  She is currently the Chair of the Creative Studies Department at the Hartt School Community Division and a board member of the Women Composers Festival of Hartford.  More info about Jessica and her music is available at www.jessicarudman.com, and she is active on Twitter (@jessicacomposer).

Many thanks to Jessica for sharing her story!