Arts & Events

Puget Sound’s Community Music program offers instruction to community members



It is well known that the University has a terrific music program. Perhaps not so well known, however, is that for those who feel they are not necessarily musically calibrated enough to be a performance major, the campus offers non-credit music instruction to the public through a program called Community Music.

What’s more? Community Music provides its students with the opportunity to showcase their new music chops through various showcases throughout the school year. They have an upcoming recital on Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. in Schneebeck Concert Hall.

The program is intended to allow those folks who have any inkling of interest in music to begin to explore the possibilities of what music can bring to their lives.

However, it is also an agency through which those who perhaps have prior musical experience can continue their practice of a particular instrument, or can begin to study an additional instrument alongside their others.

The program is taught by current instructors from the University’s music department, including studies in a variety of musical realms such as guitar, piano, voice, cello, etc.

In contrast to the typical four-year study during one’s involvement with the academic music department, Community Music fosters the development of a long-term student-teacher relationship through the ability to continue instruction from childhood into to adulthood.

The program highly values the cultivation of community as well—hence the name.

One lovely thing about non-University members taking lessons through the program is that it allows them an opportunity to experience the energy of the campus.

“We continually hear comments from Community Music students who say they are pleased with the quality of our programs and the beauty of the campus,” Kristen Murphy, director of Community Music, said. “They often rave about our faculty and say the collegiate atmosphere is an ideal setting for their study of music.”

And check it out! There is even cross-departmental involvement within the Community Music program. A professor of neuro-political-poetry, for example, could pair up with his music professor buddy and learn to play guitar while they engage in some highly intellectual, eloquent, political debate.

In preparation for the upcoming recital, Community Music students were invited to sign up to perform with approval from their private-lesson instructor. It will offer the audience a medley of beginning to advanced solo pieces, featuring students of all levels and ages on myriad various instruments—cello, flute, piano and violin are to be expected for this particular showcase.

As an added interesting twist—since this recital in particular will showcase solos that have been studied and practiced under different instructors rather than performing as a collective ensemble performance, it is likely that many of the performers will meet for the first time on the evening of the concert.

“It is a true pleasure to watch the development of Community Music students. When I hear students perform at recitals such as this one, I am always impressed by the progress I see from one year to the next,” Murphy said. “I can’t help feeling proud of our students and the wonderful faculty members who guide their success.”

In terms of what Community Music has planned for the future, their prospective scope is quite exciting.

“We continually look for new ideas,” Murphy said.

One of many hopeful strides for the program is to eventually offer scholarships for those who desire to take private instruction but cannot afford to.

“Opportunities to study music shouldn’t be for the elite,” she continued. “For those who desire it—it should be available.”

This is still a work in progress, however.

“The folks in Jones have been awesome in trying to determine a way to make this happen,” Murphy said.

It’s difficult simply because there are so many different campus departments competing for funding.

In addition, the program is currently evaluating and pushing for the feasibility of offering instruction in folk and bluegrass genres, opening up the potential for an entirely new and intriguingly stylized portion of the department.

In addition to the upcoming Dec. 20 performance, the department presents an average of 45-50 student concerts a year. Therefore, the good news is that if winter break interferes with this sure-to-be lovely solo recital, there will be plenty more opportunities to catch another.