Exploring Niche Hobbies Around Campus

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Spending countless hours on a hobby can be very fun, but being part of a community with similar interests makes it all worthwhile. While many M-A students have hobbies with large followings, some find themselves in hobbies with a niche, yet supportive community. Here, we explored the different niches around campus.

Music Production

Armer’s music producing setup

Music production involves using digital programs to record, edit, and compose music. Many of your favorite singers are backed by masterful producers who create the instrumentals behind their vocals. Senior Ethan Armer has been producing music since seventh grade after he took a week-long beginner course. Most of his understanding of music production stems from online resources and supportive members of the community.

“A lot of the stuff on making music at a professional level is free on the internet,” Armer said. 

Producers use varying programs based on what the project requires. Armer uses programs such as Apple’s Logic Pro and Ableton Live to create music. “If I ever want to get into being a professional producer, I need to know every major software,” he said.  

Armer has experimented with different genres of music such as hip-hop and dance, but now produces mostly electronic music. He draws inspiration from producers like Om’mass Keith, Jeff Ellis, and J. Dilla. He showed particular interest in J. Dilla, who was regarded as one of hip-hop’s most innovative artists during the 2000s. Before he died in 2006, Dilla “had very little equipment and would create something that was out of this world,” Armer said.

Speed Typing

Jiang’s MonkeyType Statistics

Typing is a daily necessity in and out of the classroom. While most people are fine at typing at a regular pace, some practice and dedicate themselves to constantly improving their speed. Senior Kevin Jiang picked up the hobby two years ago after feeling frustrated with his low productivity while typing. “I was at home on my computer all day and I got annoyed about how unproductive I felt,” he said. Since then, he has been working hard to improve his typing speed, reaching speeds up to 200 words per minute (WPM). 

Colemak layout

Jiang’s keyboard layout deviates from the normal QWERTY format, which is the standard layout for English keyboards, and instead uses the Colemak layout, which was created using machine learning technology. One of the differences is instead of the QWERTY keys in the upper left on a normal English keyboard, Jiang’s has QWFP keys. Although it took him a few months to get used to the layout, he was able to reach significantly faster speeds while typing. “I was able to go from 14 WPM all the way to 217,” Jiang said.

To practice and improve his typing skills, he spends time every day on sites such as MonkeyType and TypeRacer, where he tries to record faster speeds.


Calligraphy is the practice of writing letters artistically and elegantly, seen from wedding invitations and gifts to even people’s signatures. Junior Zoe Fong uses this art form to give her cards that extra pop.

Fong said, “I had a lot of friends who practiced calligraphy who inspired me to pick it up, so I taught myself by going off of what I knew about cursive,” she said. 

To learn calligraphy as a beginner, she explained, “I used online templates and just copied words and phrases online onto my own paper before I added my own spin on the lettering.” 

While the fancy lettering of calligraphy can seem hard for beginners, Fong expressed, “It’s pretty approachable—if you know cursive, all you have to learn is how to accentuate the downstrokes and upstrokes of the pen properly.” Fong added how you can pick up a book or even watch videos online to learn calligraphy. “There are so many ways to learn without spending any money at all,” she said. 

Fong is very enthusiastic about her writing, and even though she does not devote countless hours to practice, she enjoys using her skills to make cards and gifts for her friends and family. “Calligraphy is one of the best skills that I could’ve chosen to learn,” she said. “I’ve used it in so many applications and it has inspired so many creative works of mine.”


Senior Melvyn Depeyrot is heavily involved with filmmaking at M-A through the Digital Filmmaking elective. He also has produced films for himself and his friends off campus. 

Depeyrot enjoys digital filmmaking because of the different processes including editing, script writing, and recording. “It’s one of my favorite classes at M-A because it’s an artistic class with a bunch of different components,” he said. 

Out of all the work that goes into filmmaking, he enjoys editing the most, as he finds using new and complex editing techniques an exciting challenge to overcome. He explained, “It’s easy to keep using the basics you’re taught to rely on, but in that case, you’re not learning the new techniques you would want to use.” 

Shots from Depeyrot’s films

Depeyrot expressed, “I think more people should take digital filmmaking—not many people realize that it’s there, but it’s a really fun class.” He added, “John Giambruno doesn’t have that many students in his classes and can help everyone get into the hobby.” 

Although being experienced in a hobby is exciting, picking up one as a beginner might feel like a challenge. But, there is no strict path to developing your hobbies. As Armer put it, “For me, music production has been a journey that was completely out of order. There’s really no rush.”

D’Anjou Libunao is a sophomore in his first year in journalism. He enjoys writing reviews on popular media like movies, music, and more! Outside of school he loves spending time with friends.

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