YU Faculty Profile: Jon Schapiro


By Yosef Rosenfield on behalf of Features Staff

Each month, the YU Observer aims to highlight a YU faculty member. For the May edition, the YU Observer is highlighting Professor Jon Schapiro.

Name: Jon Schapiro
Department: Music
Educational Background/Qualifications: Master of Music in composition from the Manhattan School of Music
Hometown: New York
How long have you worked at YU?: 20 years
What got you passionate about your field?: Hard to say. I was a musical kid who enjoyed everything about music from an early age — even practicing! The camaraderie of being in the same room with other musicians, all working on sounding better, all developing wordless communication — all individuals but parts of a whole — is a truly addictive sensation.
What do you like about working at YU?: In music, I get what’s left of you guys after arduous days of intense study. I enjoy classes with students ready to let off some steam and stop taking themselves so seriously for an hour. The occasional spirited debate can also be fun.
How has COVID-19/Zoom affected the way your classes function?: Naturally it’s more challenging to make points about music when we’re not in a classroom. Having access to a piano in Muss Hall makes certain explanations much easier; I’m sure this is true about most academic disciplines.
If you could bring in any guest lecturer, alive or deceased, who would it be, and what would he/she speak about?: Louis Armstrong. “Pops” (one of his nicknames) witnessed the most important — and fascinating — era of American music, during which musicians wrestled with the challenges of blending ragtime and the blues. New Orleans was a culturally rich and diverse city with pretty much everything American music had to offer. Armstrong lifted himself from poverty and first saw the U.S., then the world. It’s hard to imagine an aspect of 20th century life he couldn’t illuminate for a class.
Do you have any advice for students interested in a career in your field?: Learn everything. Be prepared. Remember that it’s supposed to be fun.
What is one thing you want students to know about you?: I’ve had the very good fortune of working with 17 of New York’s top musicians. Summit Records has just released our second album, “Human Qualities,” available electronically and on CD. Check out our website, www.schapiro17.com. (And I’m always up for a little music schmooze.)

Is there a YU professor you admire whom you would like to see highlighted in future editions? Email us at theyuobserver@gmail.com.