Music Monday: “Pomp and Circumstance (Graduation March)”

Sometimes music makes the moment.

If you’ve ever earned a degree you have most likely celebrated your achievement by parading to the music of a rousing march while dressed in a cap and gown en route to your waiting diploma. But, what is that march called? Today’s Music Monday explores and answers this for you.

The march you almost always hear is one part of a series of marches composed by Sir Edward Elgar that is most commonly referred to as “Pomp and Circumstance.” More specifically, the “Trio” portion of Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D (also known as “Land of Hope and Glory“) is the part of the composition to which graduates traditionally march.

Video of Elgar conducting a performance of it follows:

Why did I feature this piece today? For starters, this is the time of year when graduates celebrate their achievements by enduring commencement speeches of often questionable candor. I also chose this piece because on May 7, 2005 I participated in graduation ceremonies for my MBA program at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA (although I completed the coursework in August 2005).

Matthew A. Gilbert, MBA -- Graduation Ceremony at Woodbury UniversityNotably, while earning my MBA at Woodbury University I also received the “Outstanding MBA Scholarship” award in the process. My time at Woodbury was incredibly formative — equal to if not more so than my undergrad years at UC Santa Barbara — because experiences in and out of the classroom compelled me towards my current career as an educator. Despite being one of the oldest business programs in Los Angeles (Woodbury was founded in 1884 as Woodbury Business College) it is lesser known than other Southern California schools. But I believe there is sometimes strength in smaller stature.

Case in point: my experience as a bigger fish in a smaller pond was one I could have never experienced at a larger school. And, I believe, it was precisely because of my more personalized engagement with professors that I took the first steps necessary to get where I am today. Specifically, it was due to the direction of Satinder Dhiman, Ph.D., Ed.D. — a Professor of Management and Accounting, Associate Dean of Business, and MBA Program Chair — that I submitted my first academic paper to a conference.

The paper, “Intranets: Catalysts for Improved Organizational Communication,” was accepted by the International Academy of Business Disciplines (IABD) and was published in Vol. X (pp. 221-225) of the organization’s Business Research Yearbook. Over time I would go on to attend nine such conferences and publish eleven papers! I look forward to future opportunities to publish and present.

Through my participation in these important events I perfected my presentation style and learned about the inner workings of academia. I remain friends with many people I first met at academic conferences and treasure the relationships I share with these unique individuals.

Given my experience, I encourage those of you evaluating educational programs to first consider your goals in enrolling and, second, the overall experience you might enjoy. Don’t buy on brand name alone so to speak — consider the holistic education you will receive during your matriculation.

One of the most important lessons I have learned about learning is that it is often less important what school you went to than it is what you got out of that experience and how you applied the knowledge you gained after graduating. Often the School of Hard Knocks is the best teacher of them all — Steve Jobs is proof of that!

At the same time, wherever you go, consider a degree that is universally recognized and understood — or one that is at least directly related to your reasons for having pursued higher education. That is one of the reasons I chose an MBA program and not others that I was considering.

In closing, for those of you graduating this year I congratulate you. For those of you just beginning your journey I applaud you.  And, for those about to rock, I salute you!