Music Department continuing to expand

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author: quinn bell | a&c writer


Signs, on signs  on signs /  Jeremy Davis

Adelle talks about what is going on.

The University of Regina’s music department is thriving. The music major’s boast a big batch of first-year students, recent change-ups in faculty and ensembles, upcoming concerts with killer repertoire (such as Mozart’s Requiem), and a renewed emphasis on the community (including tours, collaborations, and educational programming.

Adelle Sawatzky, communications rep. for the Music Students’ Association,provided an idea of what it’s like to pursue music at the U of R. I caught up to her in the Crush area in Riddell, after she had finished her morning practice.

You’ve just come from practicing, is that right? Where is it that you practice? How often are you there?

“We’re basement-dwellers. We practice in the basement of the Riddell Centre. It’s kind of near the basement parkade area, and there are nine practice rooms for eighty-some students (our department is growing quite a bit). I usually come in around 8:30 if I have classes… I don’t think I’m the exception, because most people play more than one instrument. So I usually dedicate about 45 minutes to piano first, about 45 minutes to voice (which is my major), and I usually try to scoot in some trumpet practice. And then I also have to practice for my technique classes.”

And that’s a requirement for your program? Does everyone have to take extra technique courses?

“It’s an option for all music students to take extra technique classes, but it’s required for students in Education… You have vocal techniques, brass techniques, woodwind techniques, jazz tech, and percussion.”

You also mentioned piano. You’re not a piano major, but you still have to practice that?

“I take private lessons because I think it’s important… You do have to do a piano lab with your theory, but after your first year… you do a couple quick study pieces, and kind of just prove that you have about a Grade four ability [for RCM].”

And how does it work with so many students in the department? You said eighty students have only nine rooms?

“We have to book out times… if you’re not there within ten minutes of your prescribed time, you lose that if somebody wants to sweep it up.”

Sounds like you could use more space. Would that help the music students thrive?

“Oh, of course! We could always use more space. We’ll have to see if we keep growing, and if we keep producing good musicians.”

Speaking of the department growing, how’s the new batch of first-years? I’ve noticed a lot of new faces. Is it a larger group?

“Yeah, they are a larger group, I think there’s thirty of them.” [Wow!] “I know! Which is big for us. Maybe for another department that’s pretty small… But it’s almost like high school, because we take all our classes together, so you’re going to take your theory, your music history, your ear-training all together. If you think of high school, if you’re with the same thirty people all the time – that’s a lot. In comparison, two years ago there were fifteen of us [in first year], which has shrunk down to I think nine education students. So we’re definitely getting bigger, which is really exciting. And the fact that people want to come here for music education instead of Saskatoon, or even Brandon… it’s really exciting.

So, the Music Students’ Association is going to be hosting some events this year. Could you explain what that’s about? Will it help new students to get along and mingle?

“Well, we’re a really close-knit group, as you know, so we’re doing an ice-breaker this week. We’ll have free pizza (because, you know, free pizza is always a gateway), and we’ll just play some get-to-know-you games and board games and stuff. It definitely helps mingle in the first years with some of the older-year students. Yeah, it’ll be exciting, because we have such a big department this year! And we do spend a lot of time together. We have a lounge downstairs. It’s good to know the people we’re studying with. These people will be our future colleagues.”

Can you speak a little bit to how other people could get involved in the music department? If not this semester, then in the future?

“Well, anybody is welcome to play in our ensembles. Some of them are auditioned and some are just for anybody who wants to come out. This semester we’re singing Mozart’s Requiem with the RSO – we have a combined concert choir and chamber singers – and anyone is welcome [it’s too late to join this semester but follow the U of R choral department page for updates about the winter semester]. Our other non-auditioned group is the concert band; [there are a lot of community members in the concert band]. There’s also a new-music ensemble for anybody who’s looking for some post-modern music to explore. Our jazz auditions have already gone by [but there will be more before next semester]…and orchestra!”

We always need more string players!

“We always need string players. It’s a community-majority orchestra, so that’s kind of cool.”

Anything else to look forward to this semester?

“You can also get involved by just coming and listening. Because, as I said, lots of times we’re playing for each other – but why not play for other people? Music lovers aren’t just music students; I think everyone likes music. We’ll be bringing in some really cool artists this year… if you just keep your eyes open on our MSA Facebook page; we usually have links to what we’re up to. We’re bringing in some really cool people this year.”

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