Local Limelight: Not playing around

Why non-majors can't take music classes

 by Emma Breysse
 published on Thursday, October 19, 2006

Many ASU musicians find it frustrating that they can only take music classes if they are music majors.

For students who think that drama and music combine only on Broadway, think again.
Musically-inclined ASU students are frustrated that they usually can't take music classes at the University without being a music major. But while non-majors feel left out, music school administrators say they already have a full load of students to teach.
For students like film and media productions sophomore Andy Hendrix, the exclusivity of the program was a disappointing surprise. Because he plays trombone, baritone horn, percussion and guitar, Hendrix was a prominent member of his high school's jazz, concert and marching bands. But he was rejected twice in his quest to take classes in music theory and performance at ASU.
"It made me feel like they didn't want me to have anything to do with it if I wasn't a major," Hendrix says. "I guess they figure it's not worth the extra time."
However, guitar professor Frank Koonce says there is not any one policy against students like Hendrix taking classes. For the music school, the situation boils down to a lack of space, time and professors to accommodate extra students.
"We have to accommodate the majors first," says Koonce, who, instructing music majors alone, already teaches five hours more than his job requires. "If my load were down, I'd do my best [to teach non-majors]."
Martin Schuring, an oboe professor, says non-majors can have studio lessons if they pass an audition and if there's room. Because oboe is less in-demand than other instruments, Koonce says he has more availability for non-majors than guitar, voice and piano professors.
But music sophomore Jayme Goldstein says that students face the issue of time management as well as professors. "People don't realize how much time it takes to be a music major," she says.
Just ask Char Bashore, a double major in music and biochemistry. When Bashore learned about the options open in the music school for non-majors, she decided the only way to continue playing her violin at the level she wanted to was to become a music major.
Bashore says the school's majors-first policy is a near necessity. "The school of music is essentially bursting at the seams," she says.
For students who find taking Bashore's route too challenging, Koonce says there are other options, like community college classes and student-taught lessons.
The Herberger College at Large, a new ASU program, offers music lessons to the community. Schuring adds that the ASU marching band and concert band take non-majors.
Despite these alternatives, students like Hendrix are still unsatisfied. Bashore says there is no substitute for one-on-one instruction with a professor.
"They didn't even ask if I could read music," says Hendrix, remembering his own experience. "I would appreciate it if they would take me more seriously."

Reach the reporter at emma.breysse@asu.edu

If you go...

If you're a non-major who'd like to take music classes, try these options:

Herberger College At Large

A session of 12 private lessons for 30-60 minutes

Each costs between $340 and $660.

Other six-week group classes in voice, guitar and piano are $85 for one session and $150 for two.

Classes are held in the music building or ASU Performing and Media Arts Center on Rural Road and University Drive.

Call (480) 727-0700 or visit
herbergercollegeatlarge.asu.edu for more information.

Mesa Community College

1833 W. Southern Road, Mesa

MCC offers classes in music performance. For more
information, call (480) 461-7000 or visit mc.maricopa.edu.

Student-taught lessons at ASU

To take classes from a music undergraduate or graduate student, contact a professor who teaches the instrument you are interested in and ask for a recommendation. Also watch for fliers in the music school and other places around
campus. For a complete list of music faculty, go to
music.asu.edu and click on "Faculty."

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