Chris Ruenes began teaching when he was in 7th grade, offering guitar and piano lessons to younger children as well as to his peers. Since that time he has privately tutored continuously in various disciplines, ranging from test preparation to music theory. Chris graduated from Columbia College at Columbia University in May 2013 with a BA in Music Composition and American Cultural History. During his senior year, he was singled out for departmental honors in recognition of his music thesis, a composition entitled “Ruptures.” Inspired by the creative applications of computer science that he witnessed at Columbia’s Computer Music Center, Chris became determined to learn as much about programming as he could before graduating, attaining proficiency in Java as well as in the more music-centric Max/MSP by the time he left.
Chris’ experiences with computer programming have had a real impact on his teaching philosophy. Initially apathetic about computer science, Chris quickly became a voracious student after seeing how much it overlapped with music composition, both in its practical applications, and in the state of mind it required. This experience helped confirm Chris’ belief that any subject can be taught in a way that will make it resonate with any student—it is just a matter of tackling the subject with the tools that a student is already comfortable using, and from a point of view that he or she already finds intellectually stimulating. Chris believes that this resonance is essential to a student’s ability to truly understand a topic. In the short term, the enthusiasm it generates provides an entry point into the material. In the long term, it reinforces what the student has learned and allows this material to stick.
Besides teaching, Chris enjoys spending his time biking, running, rock climbing and exploring New York with friends. He sings and plays guitar and piano, and joins open mic nights and group improvisation sessions throughout the city whenever he can. He is currently the assistant music director of the Columbia University Gospel Choir, and is in the process of getting a new band off the ground, called VoXX-ing (pronounced “voice crossing”). His current composition projects include collaborations with filmmakers, visual artists and dancers, as well as with other musicians.