South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

Five Minutes with Anna DeGraff

FRANKIE HERRERA Dr. Anna DeGraff, instructor of applied voice and music appreciation, sets the atmosphere for her students with a song from a psychedelic rock band. Jefferson Airplane “White Rabbit” fills the class with a smooth and mellow harmony.

The “Five minutes with” series focuses on an SDSU faculty, student or member of the Brookings community. The interviewer spends five minutes speaking with a person to learn their specialty or something they are passionate about.

Q: What’s something you wish you’d known earlier?

A: I wish I had known that when I started college the harder you work the more you get out of anything. People expect more of you.”

Q: Why do you love music? When did you know you wanted to teach it?

A: Why do I love music? Why does anybody love music? Music kind of just speaks to this baser humanity, this essence of who we are … It’s always been this force in my life from a young age that I couldn’t get enough of listening to music or of singing or of playing the piano.

My parents had the rock band in the 70s my mom wanted us all to have piano lessons so I started playing piano at age five, but I’m the youngest of four kids, so from the day they brought me home my oldest sister was already taking piano lessons. I heard her playing in the house and singing and all that, so you know, I just grew up around it.

I was really shocked by how much joy it [teaching] brought me, how it felt to help somebody find their voice not just their actual singing voice, but a way to express themselves emotionally not just sonically. It was more rewarding than I ever expected.

Q: I hear you travel back and forth to SDSU every week?

A: I live in Marshall so I’m here Monday, Wednesday and Friday and I travel back and forth it’s a lot of driving.

Q: Who is the most influential band in music?

A: If we are talking in a cultural level, I have to say the Beatles were the most influential band. That’s such a cliché answer, but they brought this sort of pop style to the masses. It was happening a little bit, but they were such a ubiquitous force all over the world. They changed the way the game was played and when they went into other styles they started doing more psychedelia and all that stuff, that changed the culture of music too … I think that’s probably one of the most influential. I mean, if I were to talk about who really influenced music, you have to go back even farther than that and talk about blues and jazz musicians and early country-western musicians.

Q: Who is your favorite singer?

A: If classical, Janet Baker, she’s a British mezzo-soprano and she’s just incredible, her voice is pristine, and I mean it’s just she can do so much with it. She has so many ways of expressing her sound because her instrument is so good. She’s worked so hard at it and really perfected it, I think, and then just the way that she acts. She can stand still on a stage staring straight forward but the emotion comes through in her face in her voice so she doesn’t have to do all of this pyrotechnic moving around there is just a stillness and a personal level of an expression that really speaks to me from her.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *