Teachers’ Tastes in Music

Leo Saperstein

Faculty members took time to reflect on music through their lives, both during COVID-19 and leading up to it, revealing what it has meant for them on a grander scale.

Science Teacher and Coordinator of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Nate Cardin said his top genres are indie alternative, melancholic music and upbeat gay pop music. Cardin said he eagerly awaits releases from the band M83.

“I will immediately and repeatedly stream any new M83 album that drops,” Cardin said. “Each new album seems to know exactly what I need to hear at that moment, and many of their songs have featured in pivotal moments in my life.”

Cardin said he played “Outro” by M83 in his marriage proposal to his husband, while their other song “Steve McQueen” played as they walked down the aisle as newlyweds. Cardin said although M83 songs are a favorite of his, Sam Smith’s “How Do You Sleep” is especially important to him.

“As a gay kid who grew up in the 80’s/90’s in a military family in the South, I was terrified of anyone figuring out who I was,” Cardin said. “Like many queer boys, I became hyper-aware of how my body moved and how society said it should(n’t) move. I spent so many years regulating my every movement as a way to protect myself from discrimination (or worse) that seeing Sam Smith move their body in non-masculine ways in their “How Do You Sleep?” music video unlocked something for me.”

English Teacher Adam Levine said he loves many different genres of music, including classical, disco and EDM, but especially those which fall into the categories of rock and hip-hop.

“My favorite band growing up was The Strokes,” Levine said. “I loved their garage-rock jangle, irreverent attitude, and guitar-driven sound. I also adored show tunes and classical music when I was young.”

Levine said that his musical taste has developed throughout COVID-19 for multiple reasons, one being recommendations from his students.

“I attend a weekly listening party with my friends from across the country (using an app called JQBX), and they’ve exposed me to new musical genres,” Levine said. “I’ve been listening to more funk, tropicália, and americana.”

Director of HW Works Zaakirah Daniels ’10 shared her relationship with music throughout her life and into COVID-19. Daniels said some of her go-to songs of all time are “Teardrop” by Massive Attack and “Keep Looking” by Sade. Despite her wide range of musical taste, Daniels said that Michael Jackson is where her love for music began.

“It was my first cassette,” Daniels said. “I had a little Sony Junior Walkman, and the first music piece that I listened to was the HIStory album, part one and two, by Michael Jackson, and I was four years old—maybe five—just taking that with me everywhere.”

When asked what music has done for her during COVID-19, Daniels reflected on a moment earlier in quarantine, when she listened to “Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael” by George Michael, one of her favorite artists.

“I put on a concert, a lip-syncing concert, for myself with choreography,” Daniels said. “My sister was in there too, and I was performing. So, I have a balcony that faces to the street. I was performing on my balcony, to the neighborhood of nobody.”

As Daniels scrolled through her playlists, she addressed why music matters so much to her.

“Music is just so important, and it just encapsulates so much for us, I think,” Daniels said. “It’s a way that we can see ourselves reflected in the world, no matter what it all is—all the different songs, genres, vibes that we curate.”