The World Outside the Classroom

By Brendon Abbazio

SC Contributing Writer

If you take the time to get a good look at the many faces you pass along the sidewalk while on your journey to class, you might observe more than you think.

The shoulders you rub with in class are rightfully expected to be the same shoulders you rub with on your climb up the professional ladder to success.

But could your classmates go on to do bigger things outside the realm of your major that are so left field you can’t even begin to comprehend how?

There is more to what is beyond just the faces that occupy the uncomfortable desks parked in rows that surround you.

We aim to please our parents and future employers by obtaining a degree in something we may think we have the slightest interest in.

Then again, maybe our intuition as children wanting to be firefighters and astronauts are truly what we were destined to be, so why lose sight of that? Senior Chris Lisi, a History and Secondary Education major at East Stroudsburg University, has not lost sight of his dreams and in fact has been using them to his advantage.

Along with the knowledge gained in class, he looks to accomplish something much larger than what is professed to us daily in a thirty-by-thirty foot cinderblock square we call the classroom.

“I first picked up music when I was in the 4th grade when my best friend and I elected to play the saxophone. Since then, I have developed a strong love and appreciation for the art,” says Lisi, accompanied by the blares of Irish music and crowd chatter roaring from the St. Patty’s festival down below as we sit in his part-bedroom part-studio on Main Street in Stroudsburg.

This doesn’t exactly sound like the kind of thing you would expect a History and Secondary Education major to say, but then again, have you really taken the time to ask any of them?

Lisi’s intimate, committed bond with creating music is equal to his devotion to his studies, but he realizes that being an educator is only half the battle,

“I chose to major in History and Secondary Education because I am really interested in how the educational system works in our nation and around the world.

One of my biggest dreams is to make the system more effective by fulfilling the concept of equal opportunity.”

It is with his passion outside the classroom for creating music that he will use to wage against an ineffective educational system and in turn change how learners embrace their education.

Lisi’s taste in music varies eclectically from 60s Classic Rock to Jazz and is indicative of the vinyl covers that parade the walls in his tiny, cluttered room from Van Halen’s Women and Children First to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.

Lisi primarily with writes and produces his own music and currently utilizes sampling – a musical technique where the bass line, melody, or lyrics from an established piece of work is taken in small bits and pieces and placed among new notes and melodies – when creating his own sound.

“I chose to sample old records to bring old songs back to life in a new way, so I believe my love for analyzing past history becomes apparent in my music when I experiment with my love for the classics.”

On any given day at odd hours, the repetitive thump of bass notes rumbling the old apartment building’s floor paired with static-y, old chorus lines, and the rattling of snare drum hits are all trademarks of Lisi.

As he sits pensively at his desk with a cigarette propped behind his ear, it is of current fashion to hear rap artist Travi$ Scott’s Days Before Rodeo bellowing from Lisi’s room.

“When I’m making music on my computer, I like to make Hip-Hop and experimental music. I have been listening to Travi$ Scott a lot lately, so I gain a lot of my current inspiration from him.”

But that’s not where it ends with Lisi, “As a saxophonist I like to play Jazz. I have an eclectic taste in music, so I draw inspiration from all across the musical spectrum; however, if I had to choose two people who have influenced me the most I would have to say Kanye West and Billy Joel. I admire their ability to produce quality music consistently throughout the duration of their career.”

Lisi spends a generous portion of the night and early morning thumbing through old records, chopping samples and using his keyboard and MPC machine to create a mix of digital and analog instrumental music.

He’s building a catalog of music that he intends on sharing publically, but not until he feels he has fine-tuned his craft and, “established his sound.”    

With his delicately worn-in, white Apple MacBook littered with sound production software stickers cemented to his desk alongside gold KRK studio speakers and traces of once-hot coffee, symbolic of his late-night producing sessions, which he embarks on quite often, it is obvious that aside from the classroom setting his peers are familiar with, this is in fact Lisi’s true dwelling.

With music in his soul and the awareness of those in desperate need of an education embedded in his heart, Lisi is dedicated to becoming an educator whose love for music can revolutionize the learning experience.

“I believe when multiple people with the same intense passion come together, great things are made,” says Lisi uncannily as though he is cognoscente of coalitions in both music who have created great things as well as historical figures who have sacrificed to conquer oppression, inequality, and violence.

Lisi’s knowledge gained in the classroom is similar to his choices of musical icons that he attributes to his inspiration.

Speaking on the behalf of Lisi’s inner-educator, “I believe music should be a focal point in all schools because it has the power to bring people together and learn about each other and that’s what’s most important.”

Back in October of 2013, ESU prohibited from accepting new students in majors such as French and music.

This diminished the university’s presence as an integral force in advocacy of the arts.

“I would undoubtedly be involved with the school if they were to expand their music department. I feel my unique perspective could help a lot of people,” says Lisi disappointedly towards the confines his school has restricted its capacity to teach the art.

Lisi’s pursuit outside of the classroom and desire to revitalize secondary education can possibly be stifled by the university’s inability to offer a suitable, expressive environment.

Lisi expands, “I have not shared my aspirations with too many people at ESU as of now. I typically shy away from typical ‘music business’ conversations because most of the time people will encourage you to reconsider.

However, I have confronted and have had conversations with some individuals that I respect and I have obtained some helpful advice that I am thankful for.”

Nothing can stop Lisi’s vision; his feet are rooted and he’s in it for the long haul.

The combination of his love for music and education has inspired Lisi with something exciting to offer after his time at the university.
“Right now I am in the process of trade-marking a contemporary media outlet intended for high school and college students that focuses on empowering young people by offering inspiration to those who need it. My site will contain info about diversity among cultures, current events, art, and other forms of entertainment. After I graduate college I plan on pursuing my music career while simultaneously making efforts to benefit the educational system in a positive way through my company.”

Aside from his pending efforts towards redefining education, Lisi hopes to tweak and finalize his current catalog of music and present his debut album, a compilation of various original works of different genres, some time around July 1st, his 22nd birthday.

If you’re interested in more, hop in your car and take a drive past 586 Main Street in the wee hours of the morning.

You’ll be sure to hear Lisi’s creations belting loudly from his second-floor window facing the street.

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