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Learning How To Teach, Playing Music, And Running The Whole Show

Nellie Cordi


Nellie Cordi always knew that she loved music (influenced during elementary school by Hannah Montana, among others), but the spark to teach was ignited one summer during the Eastern U.S. Music Camp at Colgate University where she was a counselor. When the guitar teacher was unable to teach a group of 11- 18-year-olds, Nellie was asked to fill in, and after a few days, the young musicians were performing music they had written. “After the experience I had with those kids, I had to go into teaching,” she explained. A talented guitarist and electric bass/upright bass player who has performed with several music ensembles at the College and gigs with three bands in the local music scene, Nellie will graduate this month with her Performing Arts: Music degree.

She explains her role this way, “When you listen to a good bass player, you don’t even notice they’re there and they’re actually the one running the whole show.” She loves how the instrument ties together rhythm and harmony “…while the band plays above you and you’re in control of the tone and the mood.” Bass isn’t Nellie’s only instrument. She began playing violin in fourth grade, guitar during high school, and while a student in the School of Music, Nellie has taken lessons in piano, flute, saxophone and clarinet. She’ll need to know how to play every instrument in the middle school or high school band she plans to one day conduct.

Nellie has not only enjoyed performing in the Guitar Ensemble, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Ensemble and taking music courses, she also values the conversations she has with her professors about teaching. “I love learning how to teach people things, it’s fascinating, and I can go to my professors and ask them, ‘How would you explain this to someone?’ ”

This summer, Nellie plans to finish her debut album, with funk, pop and indie songs “about the first 20 years of my life,” work as the Girls Dorm Head again at the summer music camp  and gig with Areli and Company, Jenny Marie and the Crew, and Leaky Faucet, as she prepares to transfer on for her bachelor’s degree in Music Education with a minor in Jazz Styles this fall. As for her musical influences, they’ve grown over the years to include Rush, Queen, Pink Floyd, Esperanza Spalding, Stevie Wonder, and Vulfpeck.