Scholars Forum Success Stories: Kaylor from Music Education

Posted on 2/14/2014 10:03:22 AM

Faculty members who encourage students to participate in the 2014 Undergraduate Scholars Forum and Graduate Scholars Forum can help students go well beyond what they initially imagined for their scholarly work. Michael Kingan is a faculty member who has mentored many students to present their work at the forums. Here is a story about one of his students, Dakota Kaylor, from the 2013 Undergraduate Scholars Forum.

Music Education undergraduate Dakota Kaylor won a USF Outstanding Performance Award for “The Method to Performing in the Style of Jazz Vibraphone.” Kaylor researched and practiced the jazz style on the vibraphone, a percussion instrument similar in appearance to the xylophone. Although he had previously played the vibraphone in concert style, playing it in a jazz style with the IUP Jazz Ensemble proved a bit of challenge. He admitted that the research project was not something he pursued. “It just kind of fell into my lap,” he said. “I just wanted to get better at playing.”

His advisor, Michael Kingan, suggested he take a closer look at the theoretical basis of playing the instrument by studying The Vibes Real Book by percussionist Arthur Lipner. After weeks of theoretical research and step-by-step practice, Kaylor said his playing became easier and more interpretive. “It started to sound like jazz,” he said. “I wasn’t just playing the notes.”

He then created a PowerPoint presentation for the USF about his research, breaking down the process into smaller steps. “I went back to square one and explained what I did,” he said. After his presentation, Kaylor performed on the vibraphone, playing Milt Jackson’s jazz classic “Bag’s Groove.” 

Kingan, who said he encourages all his students to participate in the forum, has had a student participate in the forum every year. “The encouragement is directed completely at the experience and the personal reward that comes with it, “ he said. “The award he [Kaylor] received for making a fine presentation was not the motivation, but was the icing on the cake.”