Behind the Scenes with Patrick Johnson

Physicist and Professor

Patrick Johnson is an associate teaching professor of physics at Georgetown University. Choral Arts is thrilled to host Patrick for The “Sound” of Music, where he’ll teach viewers about sound and how it works.

The majority of his professional time, he teaches introductory physics to non-physics majors. He also teaches a modern physics class to physics majors, as well as a science-for-all course called The Science of Sound and Sight. On the side, he has written a book, developed some VR tools for learning physics, and does outreach.

Choral Arts: Tell us about a recent experience of awe.

Patrick Johnson: Having been inside for the last 16 months, I haven’t gotten out to see many awe-inspiring things. I experienced awe while reading through The Expanse book series recently. It is a meticulously crafted world and on several occasions the authors have stated consequences of life in space where I’ve thought to myself, “Wow… That is how it would work…” In a more traditional sense of the question, I remember visiting my aunt and grandparents who live in the redwood forests of Northern California and walking through those trees was very awe-inspiring.

Choral Arts: What music are you listening to at the moment?

Patrick Johnson: I am very much a person who listens to songs on repeat when needing to focus on work. I have changed songs/albums since listening to “Call Me Maybe” a few thousand times while writing my dissertation. Most recently, I listened to “45:33” by LCD Soundsystem on repeat while writing letters of recommendation.

Choral Arts: Have you ever experienced transformation through music?

Patrick Johnson: I remember the first time I listened to the 10th anniversary concert of Les Mis. Specifically, the parade of 17 Valjeans from around the world marching down the aisle and then singing “Do You Hear the People Sing” in their native languages bit-by-bit very much moved me. And to this day, it’s difficult for me to watch/listen to that without having that feeling well up inside me. This also led me to finding recordings of Norm Lewis doing “Stars” (my actual favorite song from Les Mis) and his voice is amazing.

Choral Arts: What upcoming projects are you most looking forward to?

Patrick Johnson:  I was really excited to co-teach a class with a biology colleague in the DC Jail this past spring, but the class was cancelled due to low enrollment in the program due to the pandemic. I’m not sure when I’ll have the chance to do it in the future, but I’m very excited to start.

Join Patrick Johnson and Artistic Director Scott Tucker for The “Sound” of Music, a riveting discussion about about how sounds are created, how we hear them, and how it all relates to music, on Wednesday, July 7th at 7:00 pm ET.