Steven Pane
Professor of Music

Ph.D., University of Maine
M.M., Westminster Choir College


Professor of Music Steven Pane says the UMF Music program, under which students can come in as Music, Arts Administration-Music, or an Individualized major involving music, not only connects students to the performance aspect of music, but also in other areas: music and writing, music and history, even music and biology.

Steven does two major things in his Music classes: first, he works hard early on to help students identify where their music passion is and then he helps his students learn about the music field.

Exploring the Other 98 Percent of the Music Industry

Steven points out there are many music schools in the country and many other schools with large music programs, and that both of these groups of institutions turn out many wonderful music performers — but those students will compete to work in only 2 percent of the jobs in the music field. There does not seem to be a large number of schools, however, that focus on the other 98 percent of the jobs in the music industry, things like writing about music (music reviewers), music management, music producing, research on music and the brain, etc.

Steven believes these are areas Farmington can help address by incorporating students’ love of music with interdisciplinary fields such as Business Economics, Psychology, Creative Writing, Computer Science, and more. For example, he offers a class, Music Research and Writing, where students work to develop skills in music research and writing. The course is intended to help students learn to write about music.

He also says there are a number of wonderful performance opportunities at Farmington — not just training for professional performance careers. In fact, students at UMF will have greater access to the more advanced ensembles because they are not competing with 40 or more voice majors.

At Farmington, It’s About Contemporary Music

Steven also believes that contemporary music (particularly boundaries between classical, rock, jazz, experimental, etc.,) is a focus of the music program at Farmington. In fact it has proven to be a wonderful way to get students interested in music.

He offers courses such as Reich to Radiohead (blending contemporary classical and rock traditions), Electro-Acoustic Music, as well as courses in Bach and Beethoven — a wide and diverse area that allows students to investigate a wide spectrum of the contemporary field. This has also helped Steven become more “in tune” with the contemporary music his students listen to.

A particularly interesting in-the-classroom assignment Steven assigns is to let students pick a piece of music they recognize or find intriguing and then he requires them to become an expert on that piece for the entire semester. His students are asked to become even more familiar with the piece and will research all aspects of the work: The composer, the historical period during which it was composed, and more. At the end of the semester, the students give a presentation to the class — giving their findings and their perspectives about the piece.

Outside the Classroom: Innovation and Excitement — Putting Theory into Practice

Outside the classroom, Steven encourages students to produce assignments in ways that are meaningful to their learning; that this is how students actually retain what they’ve learned and it excites and encourages them to learn more. Students may, for instance, produce a radio show, or create a Web site, or produce a film, or write a Blog, or develop a business presentation about a piece of music or about a music concept. All of this helps students to define what is important to them, which in turn helps them to better connect with music — even music they may not have particularly cared for going into the project.

Steven has students write about music (including Blogs) to introduce their own perspectives to the piece, for instance a history major may write about the Napoleon era in Europe and how that era influenced the music being written and performed at the time; similarly a psychology major may write about how Freud impacted music in Germany. The students get to know the subject matter in a way that is relevant to them while also providing ample opportunity to write about music without actually “writing music,” per se. It helps them to develop strong writing skills at both the academic and reviewer level. This also allows the students to add their own voice, their own academic background, to the classroom discussion.

From Stravinski to Slipknot — Concert as Classwork

To further expose his students to music performance, Steven often takes his students to concerts both on-campus and off. In addition to encouraging his students to attend classical music concerts on campus, he also encourages them to take in other kinds of music being performed on campus: folk, jazz, blues, Celtic, etc.

He has accompanied students on class trips to concerts in Portland: Joshua Bell (classical violin) at Merrill Auditorium in Portland; Sigur Rós at the State Theater in Portland; and Man Man at the Space Gallery in Portland. He also typically does class trips to concerts at the Maine Center for the Arts in Orono, the Rockport Opera House, and out of state in New York, Boston and Quebec.

In fact, one of these field trips outside of Maine was quite memorable to Steven as well as his students. While accompanying students to the College Music Society Conference in Quebec City (a discussion and performance of mostly classical works) Steven’s students introduced him to a new form of music one night — taking him to a heavy metal concert by Slipknot, The Unearthed, and As I Lay Dying (according to Steven, Slipknot was the loudest). Fortunately, Steven had earplugs, but says he enjoyed the show.

This “classical professor who enjoys metal” notion isn’t as unusual as it first may seem. Steven integrates all kinds of music (Radiohead, Tool, Beethoven, Bach, Sigur Rós, Man Man, etc.) into his in-class and outside the classroom music projects. Whether it’s analyzing the rhythms of Slipknot, the colors created by Sigur Rós, or the emotional program of Beethoven, it’s all relevant to Steven, and to his students.

He has an intense musical curiosity and is always interested in his students’ playlists — and his students quickly learn “their” music is “his” music, too. In fact, if you visit him in his office, you’re just as likely to find Steven listening to Radiohead as Rachmaninov on his iTunes.

A True Academic — Areas of Special Interest

Steven said he is infinitely curious about music, even in areas outside of his field. Although his areas of expertise are imbedded in classical music and music history, Steven said he likes to approach the classes very much like a student would. For instance, he has begun to explore the music of Radiohead — a favorite of many of his students. Steven said he finds this band surprisingly interesting and it allows his students to also see that he takes “their” music seriously. His genuine display of musical curiosity and respect for “their music” is something many of his students comment on — in a positive way — in and outside the classroom.

Steven’s areas of special academic interest are in performing and music history. He gives approximately ten performances per year, either as a pianist or as a conductor. Steven has performed with the UMF Community Chorus, the UMF Chamber Choir (concerts on campus and in Quebec and New York City), with Percussiano (concerts in Maine and Minnesota), with his wife, Lily Funahashi, in the Pane-Funahashi Duo (the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga, N.Y., and at universities across the U.S.), and for eight years he was the associate conductor for the Boys Choir of Harlem in New York.

He has performed at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium with the Choral Arts Society and with the University of Southern Maine Orchestra. Steven has also conducted The UMF Community Chorus, the nineteenth-Century Singers, the Camerata Choir, the Nordica Men’s Chorus, and the Nordica Women’s choruses, which often rehearse and perform at UMF’s Nordica Auditorium. Steven’s other area of expertise is in music history, particularly focusing on Italian music history.

Respected in the Field — Noteworthy Accomplishments

Steven received grants to develop an exciting new electro-acoustic lab at UMF. It includes music workstations with Apple iMacs, and M- Audio 88 key full hammer keyboards; synthesizers and midi equipment including: Korg: Kaoss Pad, Rhythm Synthesizers, Analog Synthesizer, Sampler, and Roland: Juno 2; CD turntable setup with mixer (Pioneer CD turntables and Behringer mixer); digital multitracking, and sound emulation.

The goal of the new electro-acoustic creative lab is to help students to compose and record music. This new equipment has also launched an electro-acoustic class at UMF, which studies music by artists and composers such as Stockhausen, Cage, Brian Eno, The Books, Mars Volta, and Aphex Twin. Soon a student ensemble will form, using the electro-acoustic equipment to create compositions and use in performances on campus.

Outside of Academia — Personal Interests and Activities

Outside of work at UMF, Steven concentrates on his family and performing. He and his wife, noted pianist Lily Funahashi, reside in Wilton, Maine.