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Arcadia’s Music Department: Marching to the Beat of broken Drums

In Uncategorized on February 16, 2009 at 2:15 am

page5doorWhen it comes to Arcadia, the term “Liberal Arts school” is thrown around a lot. Well actually Arcadia defines itself as a “comprehensive university”. But just for the sake of arguement, the Encyclopedia Britannica Concise defines “liberal arts” as a “college or university curriculum aimed at imparting general knowledge and developing general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum.”

When it comes to Arcadia, this definition rings true, for the most part. Yet, when going down the list of undergraduate fields of study, it is obvious that not all programs are created equal at Arcadia.
The program that is  perhaps most disregarded is the music program — or lack thereof — here at Arcadia.

Dr. William Frabizio, Chairman of Arcadia’s music department, knows first hand the problems that Arcadia’s music program faces,  “We lose students all the time-we lose students who are already here to study music, and we lose our potential students who come and take a look and I have to level with them that there’s not much support, and really, it’s a shame, it’s really a shame,” says Frabizio.

“It’s always a puzzle as to why administrators are against something. It really is. I wonder why. And, they mention liberal arts eighty-some times in the catalogue. Music was one of the first seven liberal arts as established in the 800’s,” added Frabizio.

Every year, fresh faces enter the University ready to take on the challenge of the college life.

Freshman Alyssa Reiner has noticed the lack of support for music at Arcadia, especially when compared to her friends’ choices for college. “A bunch of my friends went to other colleges and I came here and was incredibly disappointed at the lack of musical groups and any kind of focus on music,” says Reiner. “Maybe make it from a minor into a major because there’s so much focus on fine arts with theatre and everything, and music is so closely related to those, yet there is barely anything.”

Freshman Michael Cunnane agreed with his classmate. “The music department is pretty much nonexistent and I don’t understand that. I find it really strange that you can’t major in music here,” says Cunnane.

Cunnane says he is happy at Arcadia overrall, yet he sees room for improvement.

“I’m already in the school-I’m in too deep.  Music should definitely be something we can do here-at least get a major in.”

Problems in the music Department seem to come fast and often.  Music Professor Alvin Byer had a class he was giving rescheduled from Room 114 in  Boyer Hall to Stiteler Auditorium.  “That big open room behind the auditorium which is not a very pleasant room to give private lessons in. It’s very big, it’s totally open, and people can walk in and out,” says Byer.

According to Byer even the instruments supplied to the ailing Music Department fail to meet basic standards. “Both those pianos, the one in Boyer and in Stiteler are in very poor condition. They have notes that don’t play, and when the student is playing something for me and I don’t hear a note, I think it’s because they missed playing it but in fact, she hit the key and it didn’t respond,” says Byer. “I get the strong impression that the music program is given lowest priority. It’s very embarrassing and discouraging. We get the crumbs that are left over.”

Freshmen Andrew Hutz echoed Professor Byer’s sentiments. “I think that one of the major problems with this school’s music department is the fact that there seems to be a fundamental lack of respect for musicians and what they need in order to work,” says Hutz.

President Jerry Greiner points to a lack of student interest for the decline of the program. “I think there was a point in the history of Arcadia where there was a very active major program and there was a number of students who participated in it,” says Greiner. “Then it began to dwindle, became smaller and smaller, so that the decision was made to reduce the major down to a minor in order to make it more economically feasible to have a music program.”

According to Greiner, Arcadia has made few changes to the budget of the program since its transition from a major to a minor.

Dr. Frabizio remembers it slightly differently.

“When I first came here we had a music major, we had two music majors undergraduate. And, for some reason, they lifted me out of the chairmanship for a year, rerouted a lot of money that had been developed for music into other fields, and ultimately eliminated the music major,” says Fabrizio.

Greiner also points to a lack of space as a limitation for a more developed music program. “My hope would be that in our next building, which is the University Commons, we would be able to find space within that building that could be dedicated, or nearly dedicated, for the use of students. We’d have to work on the design of that space to make sure that it’s soundproofed in ways that would make it possible for students to practice there without disturbing the offices that are above or next door to the space,” says Greiner.

But even with more space Greiner still does not see the need to create an undergraduate Music Major. “I’m not getting the impression from people that I’ve talked with that there’s an interest in having a major,” says Greiner.

Dr. Frabizio suggests making it easier for students to let their voices be heard about the program. “I had suggested to the president  that it would be a good idea to have, for lack of a better term, a series of town meetings, where just the president of the college and students met, without any other administrators or faculty or anybody there and field questions from people and comments from them and he would have a pretty good idea of what’s going on,” says Fabrizio. “I think the student voices are the ones that would be heard. I’m not trying to incite anything, but I think students are the ones who can say ‘Hey, we want this’.”

Frabizio feels losing the music program entirely would be a great loss to Arcadia. “If we exclude it from education, in favor of what they’d like to call the three R’s, or the basics, or fundamentals, or something like that, we’re skipping a large part of communication that they don’t think about.  I don’t know of any other subject that people can be so passionate about what they’re doing.”

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