The music department at Castleton State College is more popular than ever.
“With 41 current enrolled music majors, not including the four graduate students and several minors, our music department is at an all time high,” said department chairman Glenn Giles.
In recent years, Giles said the program had number in the low- mid 30s.
With all ensembles and bands expanding in numbers, Giles said the department seems to be pushing in a positive and successful direction — and he said he’s glad to be a part of it. And Giles stressed that the department isn’t just working on campus.
The Jazz combos recently took a trip to perform in Chicago and the chorus recently got back from Italy where they performed in Rome and Venice. That trip happens every four years.
Giles said part of the reason for the growth might be that last year he added a high school honors festival to the program where nationally acclaimed directors are brought in and high school directors can nominate their students to attend and work with them. The event will be held on Jan. 27.
Quincy Hilliard will direct the band and Francois Clemens, perhaps better known as the friendly police officer on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, will direct the chorus.
As the soul and funk of the Spartans football team, the marching band has also enjoyed increased student enrollment. From starting with around 20 members according to student Kate Cusson, the band has grown to nearly 50.
“The instrumentation throughout the marching band has grown so much over the last few years due to the high enrolment … We now have more brass instruments, which is very important in a marching band,” said Giles.
So what do the students who have been around think of the revamped and growing program?
“Big Improvement,” said graduate student Tom Neeson when asked that question.
“I was here last year as a community player, and I can see how it has grown over the years and it’s very exciting,” said Neeson.
But while the program is growing, the Fine Arts Center building does not, which creates space issues, Giles said. He said two practice rooms are being used for a drum studio and an office.
“There are six practice rooms for the 40 of us in one day! It’s so frustrating when I’m practicing and I get kicked out, because a lesson is being given in that room,” said Cusson, a freshman piano education major.
The final and most frustrating space issue is storage. There are too few spaces for students to safely store expensive instruments, Giles said.
But Giles said he really isn’t complaining.
“These are all growing pains and I am happy to have this issue where it is driven by increased interest in our program,” said Giles.