Professor

Travis Cross

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Overall Rating 5.0
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Most Helpful Review
Fall 2019 - (Symphonic band now listed as MUSIC 185F) Whether you were a skilled musician that did marching band in high school or an amateur who hasn't played their instrument since middle school, I would 1000% recommend taking symphonic band for at least one of your quarters at UCLA. It's a 2 unit GPA boost as long as you show up, the music isn't difficult by any means, and it's run by extremely nice people. Most of the students are non-majors who still want music in their life, but don't want it to be a huge commitment. I personally never did band in high school, and I'm an environmental science major, so I did it for fun and to see what it's like playing in a band with a bunch of big brain people. I met some of my best friends through this class, but of course who you meet here depends on your effort to interact with people, as you can get by in this class not really knowing anyone at all. You basically just meet on Tuesday's from 3 to 4:50 (4:35 in fall) to learn 4 pieces to be performed at a concert in Schoenberg Hall during week 10. If you choose a common instrument, like flute or alto sax (but strangely not clarinet), then you will probably end up only playing 2 pieces. This is because students who play common instruments are assigned to a "rotation," lettered A or B, so that everyone who is enrolled can play. Rotation A plays from 3 to 3:50, while rotation B plays from 3:50 to 4:35. Flutes sometimes had to be present the entire time even though they were only with the band for one rotation; the section they did not play in was just a sectional in another room. Also, the times I listed are for Fall Quarter; the class ends earlier than articulated on the class planner so that students in marching band can make it to Tuesday practice on time. In winter and spring, the class does end at 4:50, so the rotation times are a little different. The hardest parts of the class imo are the auditions for chair placement, which happens on the first day, as well as the concert. The audition is really chill and just comprises of one easy scale and a short sight-reading passage. The chair placements can be pretty weird though because they base it off of just those 2 things, so don't be bummed if you don't get 1st part. It's just kinda scary to see all these people you don't know line up one-by-one. The concert is fine too; it's just that you have to meet for a rehearsal beforehand, and it does go kinda late, so it can be hard to juggle it on top of week 10 responsibilities and deadlines. There's a dress code, but that shouldn't be a problem either. The class is taught by about 3 music grad students, with each of them conducting 1 piece (and one does 2). During Fall 2019, Dr. Cross was apart of it too, and though he can be kind of scary during rehearsal (he sometimes makes people individually play a part or looks over your shoulder while you play), he is really really good at what he does. He's also a really awesome person outside of band. Janet, one of the grad students (PhD candidate), is also really nice. And like I said earlier, the pieces aren't very hard. I played clarinet for 5 years from 4th grade to 8th grade, but I jumped into alto sax here at UCLA because I had one lying around, and the fingerings/technique were pretty translatable, and I managed the pieces fine. However, if you're like really advanced, you may find the pieces a little underwhelming. Also, the band definitely has a weird disconnected feeling to it just because it changes every quarter, and a lot of people either stick to themselves. The symphonic band has quite a few marching band students, and they tend to all know each other (at least in their sections). Marching band students tend to join more often during winter and spring, but not as much during fall. And now that it's an upper division course, there really is no reason to not join the symphonic band. As long as you have the space, y'all should give it a go!
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Overall Rating 5.0
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Easiness 5.0 / 5
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