Balancing academia and jazz with Jon Krosnick

Aug. 29, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Professor Jon A. Krosnick. Photo by Haiming Jin.
Professor Jon A. Krosnick. Photo by Haiming Jin.

While serving as an expert in the field of political psychology and playing the drums in a contemporary jazz group may at first glance seem like unusual bedfellows, for Professor of Communication Jon Krosnick the relationship between the two has been nothing if not harmonious.

“For me, I am a professor first and a musician second, but being a musician has always been very important to me,” Krosnick, whose group Charged Particles is rounded out by pianist Murray Low and bass player Aaron Germain, said. “That’s a very important part of my life and I approach that as a profession, not a hobby. Both parts of my life energizes the other side, so my mind goes back and forth between those two people…and each experience energizes the other one.”

Krosnick began playing the piano at age 6 and the drums at 9, spending 10 summers at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan, before studying classical percussion with Fred Hinger at the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra while still in high school and eventually winning the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Student Concerto Competition

“It is a developmental process while you are [developing] a sense of yourself, and deciding, ‘Do I have something to contribute here?’” Krosnick recalled. “It’s really encouraging to get that [to] happen.”

Charged Particles’ first iteration came about in 1992, when Krosnick started to collaborate with two other musicians – pianist Caleb Hutslar and bassist Mike Rak – at Ohio State University. The band, named after a song by jazz pianist and composer Chick Corea, was active in local jazz festivals and at jazz clubs, and continued to thrive even after Hutslar moved abroad.

Krosnick’s current collaboration with Low and Germain, which dates to 2011, marks the band’s third generation, in what Krosnick framed as a distinctly collaborative effort.

“The truth of the matter is that each of us plays melodies some of the time and each of us accompanies [the others] some of the time, so it’s really like three people having a conversation,” he said.

The band has performed across the country, and even – through a tour in Sweden – abroad. Krosnick framed his academic and musical pursuits as complementary in their mutual emphasis on telling stories.

“[In both pursuits, there] is a special moment for us when it’s clear that we’ve giving something to people that they appreciate,” he said. “No professional can ask for more than that.”


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