student-run a cappella groups vs. professor-run chorus
Date: January 28, 2014
I teach at a private college where there is a music department, but no major. For nine years I've led the college choir: our numbers usually float around 25. Our primary repertoire is jazz and pop due to the interest of the group and the campus environment. Two years ago, a grad student who had done his undergrad in music at another school, started two a cappella groups: one female and one mixed. These groups were largely successful as he was a solid musician and very dedicated to the quality. He and I had an understanding that a student was not allowed to leave the chorus to be in his group, but had do to both.
Last fall the groups were led by undergarduates as the founder had graduated and left the school. I was on sabbatical. The quality plummeted. When I returned to campus this spring, my chorus had about 8 people in it.
The question for discussion is one that is larger than my school alone: what do we do as educators, to both support student-run initiatives, and to make sure we can maintain our own programs in a enviorment that does not have a lot of talent to draw on in the first place. I understand the student's desire to create and have fun together, but I also know that most of them are not yet trained enough to employ discernment on many levels.
On our campus, our dance department is being overrun by the student-led dance team, and our theatre is being overrun by the student-led Best of Broadway group. My colleagues and I are not dinosaurs, and are willing to do what we can, but feel we are losing a cultural battle. What are others in this situation doing? Thanks!
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