School of Music faculty acknowledge student concerns of mental health

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The stress of college can push any student close to the edge of what they can handle, but for students in the DePauw School of Music, this edge forces them to question their ability to do what they love.

Students in the school of music recently approached the faculty and administration with an open letter of concerns regarding student mental health. The letter lead to a series of student forums, which will lead to an extended conversation with Dean Mark McCoy to work out ways to fully address these concerns.

“Classical music is a really demanding art form,” said School of Music professor Eric Edburg.

Edburg has been a professor at DePauw for 28 years and teaches cello, chamber music and courses in the new 21st Century music program.

Edburg said that the level of work that goes into a music major is challenge, and he remembers when he was in his students shoes.

“I was very busy, I really emphasize with my students who feel overwhelmed,” he said, but continued to say that music students at DePauw are no busier than when he was in school.

He said that one of the main problems for music students is that they have to move from an environment where they are the best and go to where everyone is either as good or better than they are.

“You have to relearn, that’s a difficult thing,” said Edburg, “You get introduced to higher standards, your awareness of how you play is increased.”

This combined with the everyday stresses of college life can leave many students feeling mentally and physically exhausted.

“Being under constant pressure from their instructors, from their peers--it’s not easy to handle.” said senior School of Music student Crystal Lau, “It’s good that we have our instructor as our support system, but I think School of Music students could definitely utilize more outside resources as well.”

These resources, some say, are found in your friends and family, or even the Wellness Center or with a councilor, but the current system does not satisfy everyone.

“I don’t think we have adequate mental health services at DePauw,” said School of Music professor Scott Perkins.

Perkins has been at DePauw for the last four years and teaches courses in music history and composition.

He said that he is happy students spoke up about their feelings and wants more to be done, “I would like to see a more robust mental health program with more staff, better hours and more resources for students.”

Even though students have come forth to the School of Music administration stating a need for more services, some feel that they are not being sufficiently heard.

“I understand that they want us to get the most out of our education but I think that there can be a better way,” said sophomore School of Music student Rachel Pearson, “It seems like half of the professors understand our stress and the other half don’t really.”

Even though the work is overwhelming, professors maintain that they are doing what is needed to prepare students for the music world.

“We are committed to providing the best education possible,” said Perkins.

The idea of the 21st Century music initiative is to prepare students in “creating your own opportunities” in music, said Edburg.

Edburg said that he and other members of the faculty want to be there for their students to help them, but don’t always know when someone is in need.

“Students don’t always feel comfortable telling us,” he said “I listen as much as I can.”