School of Music increases jury difficulty, embraces changes

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It’s been about a year and half since Mark McCoy was hired as Dean of the School of Music, and many of his ideas are now tangible plans as the School of Music undergoes various changes this fall.
Some of the differences include added visibility of the Student Advisory Board and a weekly recital hour in which every music student has the opportunity to perform to a packed house. But the new school year has brought even more attention to the music school with the goal of continuing to improve.
One important addition is large ensembles return to touring. Groups such as the Chamber Singers, Jazz Ensemble and many others will be touring across the U.S. The orchestra will also travel to England during Winter Term.
“The first step in spreading the word about the great things we are doing here is getting our groups out on the road,” McCoy said. “There are no serious schools of music who aren’t on the road all the time.”
This high level of performance is brought about by many changes in structure within the music school, including a shift in end-of-the-semester juries.
All students within the School of Music must complete an end of the semester jury on their instrument, showcasing progress to the faculty, much like a ‘final exam.’ This year, the School of Music is trying an 8-level process.
Each performance student must reach an 8 – meaning they are ready for graduate school – before commencement. If they do not, the degree will not be earned, and they must return each semester for juries until that level is reached.
“I think that leveled juries are more or less ‘good’ in theory,” said junior Tom Piotrowski, a double major in euphonium and biochemistry. “The whole mindset behind them is appropriate. It forces students to want to achieve a certain level of competency on their respected instrument.”
However, Piotrowski fears that although this will force students to achieve great success, the pressure may be inappropriate for the undergraduate education. He also hopes it doesn’t deter College of Liberal Arts students from getting involved with the programs.
This year, the levels are on a trial basis and will not affect any current student. Once the levels are refined, the next incoming class will begin the new process. Bachelor of Music Education and Bachelor of Musical Arts degrees will have to reach a slightly lower level in order to reach graduation.
“I think these changes are truly going to alter the way the DePauw School of Music is seen to the rest of campus, the community and all of the prospective music students,” said junior voice performance major Elleka Okerstrom. “We are a serious school, and these new policies reflect that. It’s all about recruiting the best incoming students that we can and pushing our current students to their maximum potential.”
In addition, DePauw University has adopted Greencastle Middle School’s music program. Beginning September 19, students will volunteer their time to guide students in music. DePauw is also creating a preparatory music school in which current university students will actually teach private lessons to members of the community.
“We are looking at a ‘CommUniversity’ which is a coming together of university and community to provide not just college-aged music instruction, but all ages with instruction,” McCoy said. “It’s an opportunity for us to make a big impact in our community because were reaching out to help with music programs in public schools.”
To round out the new school year, well-known guest artists from Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to Project Trio will be performing at DePauw this year.
“These are fantastic musicians, and it’s aimed for the CLA so we hope that the College of Liberal Arts will join us and come celebrate these great musicians,” McCoy said.
Piotrowski and Okerstrom both agreed, stating that the guest artist series were what both looked forward to the most this year.
“DePauw was one of the first schools of music in America,” McCoy said. “We are a leader in music in America and we need to take that role seriously. So how can we move ourselves forward?”