Skip to content
View Additional Profiles
MSU Profiles

Briana Schwan: talent times two

Briana Schwan grew up in a home filled with music. The daughter of music teachers, Schwan took her first piano lesson at age 5. Like her parents, she graduated in May from Minot State University with a degree in music (piano performance). But she’s added a twist to the family legacy by earning a second degree in art, with an emphasis in photography.

Musical constructs and techniques, like canon and vibrato, inspired the group of 20 abstract photos she exhibited in her senior show under the title Synesthesia.

"Synesthesia" is defined as a condition in which the customary boundaries between the senses break down, sight mingling with sound, or taste with touch. Schwan’s goal was to make images to represent musical concepts, "so people could see the music."

Schwan orchestrated her senior piano recital just as carefully, selecting works for their place in musical history and for their audience appeal.

Like many graduates, Schwan is now contemplating how to translate what she learned in the classroom into the real world. As for photography, she says, "My instructor is trying to convince me I should start submitting my work to galleries."

She has done some commercial work, including graduation pictures and weddings, but her art photography is more of a solitary pursuit. As for music, during her years at Minot State Schwan discovered she enjoys being an accompanist.

"It’s a little easier to manage, and you’re not cooped up in a practice room all by yourself," she says.

Whether she’s accompanying Minot’s Voices of Note, teaching piano lessons, playing in the Swing Band of Minot, or performing with her parents in St. Leo’s Catholic Church choir, music is what connects Briana to her family and to her community.

Schwan says the two most important things her parents taught her about making music were "the importance of practice, and importance of having fun." What the Schwans did not say, but demonstrate every day, is that one of the greatest joys of being an artist is sharing their talents with others.

To read this story in its entirety or more like it, visit the Spring 2012 Connections Magazine [pdf].