Whether it was listening to her mother’s favorite 80s pop music, hearing her family sing at karaoke, or playing the radio in the car, Gia Bautista ‘23 had a childhood filled with music. She began taking piano lessons at the age of 7, which marked the beginning of her formal music education. She continued learning piano throughout her childhood and into high school, when she made the decision to learn the flute and join her high school’s marching band and choir.
Despite her various musical endeavors in high school, Bautista explains, “I didn’t think I was going to pursue music besides taking piano lessons.” However, Bautista joined the Wind Ensemble for one semester her freshman year, while the group was still remote due to COVID-19. The experience was definitely unique, and Bautista recalls being, “grateful for the opportunity to make music as an ensemble when it was not safe or possible to do [so] in person.”
During her sophomore year, Bautista needed to take a humanities course to work towards her distribution requirement. She elected to take a music theory class, confident that her years of piano lessons would help her. The experience left her wanting to spend more time in the department, which eventually led her to minor in music. The following year, Bautista joined the chorus, remembering how much she enjoyed it in high school, and found an entirely new appreciation for it at Swarthmore.
Through her engagement with music classes at Swarthmore, Bautista has developed an extremely nuanced understanding of the subject. She attributes this to the faculty’s enthusiasm for teaching and her fellow students’ unique interests within music that they bring to the classroom. Courses such as Music and Dance Cultures pushed her to think about music as a deeply social and political art form. As a bio-education major, Bautista notes some overlap between her major and minor from time to time. One instance was when she was taking Evolution in the biology department at the same time as 20th Century Music, and she noticed that the rise in popularity of Social Darwinism impacted both the science and music of the time.
As part of her music minor, Bautista is planning to do a service-learning project in partnership with the Friends Nursery School, where she will work with young students and teach them about different musical instruments. After graduation, Bautista plans to work in biology research and nurture her passion for music by playing piano in her free time or joining a local choir.
Favorite Music course at Swarthmore? Taiko and Asian American Experiences – it was really cool how you learned popular Taiko repertoire and about the history of the genre in Asian America.
Favorite Music-making experience at Swarthmore? Piano lessons with my instructor Keiko Sato.
What you'll miss most about Swarthmore? The opportunity to take lessons and be in ensembles.
What sound or noise do you love? Rain, bird song.
What’s the last song that you played on your phone? Spoliarium by Eraserheads.