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A College Collage: The Wells School of Music

This is the sixth article in a recurring column giving students an inside look at what’s happening in each College at WCU, enabling them to better develop their education plans, course selections, and career tracks.

Photo by Danielle Venino.

Accredited with the National Association of Schools of Music, West Chester University’s Wells School of Music offers a variety of careers and explorations in music. With seven standard degree programs in performance, education, theory, history, composition and elective studies, there are courses and opportunities for all students to be involved in the music community at WCU.

From moving music therapy in house, to introducing new and revamped minors, faculty in the Wells School of Music have been working hard to offer accessible degrees and additional complementary experiences for students. Although not a new program, the music performance minor was developed to enable any student, even non-music majors who play in any of the School’s ensembles or choirs, to fill in the academic gaps beyond performing. Since students can earn up to eight music credits (each semester) by participating in an ensemble or choir, the program provides students the opportunity to fulfill an additional 10 credits and receive a minor degree in music performance. The minor focuses on teaching students the foundations of music performance, music theory, essential music training based around performing on an individual’s selected instrument and a concentration in either understanding live music or performing in the arts.

In addition to music performance, the Wells School of Music also offers minors in music, jazz studies, music history and music production. Having gone from five to 35 students enrolled in the degree in one semester, music production is the School’s newest and most popular minor. The music production minor was devised to meet the needs of a tech savvy generation by offering students courses in writing, creating and improving music through Garage Band, Logic Pro and other software tools. Students can also take courses in songwriting and scoring for film and media to learn more about music production.

With more and more students wanting to learn how to write music for film, video games and the entertainment industry, faculty in the Wells School of Music are looking into designing a degree around commercial music. The potential program would focus on instructing students to compose in the idiom, create music for the entertainment world and become trained audio engineers.

One of the major changes occurring in the Wells School of Music is the transferring of elective studies in the music therapy degree onto campus. Elective studies is a Bachelor of Music degree in which students customize the program to fit their interests. In this program, students are required to take core music courses and then have the freedom to take 21 credits from any other area of study at WCU.

However, with the music therapy track in elective studies, students were previously required to go to Immaculata University to take all of their music therapy courses. Aside from the difficulty of traveling to another campus, the program was also considerably expensive. Beginning in fall 2019, pending accreditation from the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and approval from the campus curriculum process, the music therapy degree will be offered in house for students.

As a music therapy major, students take core music, music therapy and psychology courses followed by clinical training hours. According to the AMTA, “music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship. Music therapy interventions can be designed to promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, enhance memory, improve communication and promote physical rehabilitation.”

In regards to the music therapy degree, Dr. Christopher Hanning, Dean of the Wells School of Music revealed, “What we hope and what we believe will happen is that music therapy will probably be the fastest growing program once we get it established this fall. We already have a lot of students who are interested in pursuing the program and really light up when talking about it.”

Amongst coursework, the Wells School of Music prepares their students for the working world by exposing them to an array of performance opportunities and professional experiences that grow their talents and abilities throughout their time in the School’s music programs. From international trips to touring the region, faculty continuously work to plan events that help students gain connections in different metropolitan areas. The School also has a very high success rate of placing graduates in top performance programs all across the country.

For students, faculty and community members interested in attending one of the Wells School of Music performances, the arts tab on the WCU homepage includes a calendar of all upcoming events. When clicked on, the specifics of each listed event and ticket information are provided. Additionally, most music concerts are live streamed and then stored for future viewing. “It’s a great place to see what’s going on in the arts on campus,” says Hanning. Between music, theatre, art, dance, performance groups and WCU live concerts — there are endless events for people to attend or stream online.

Danielle Venino is a fourth-year majoring in communication studies with minors in journalism and media and culture. DV851965@wcupa.edu

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