.d.o.t. (dotgasmic) wrote in ummorris,

music or theatre anyone?

hello all,
so recently i've decided in exploring other colleges and specifically thought of UMN both twin cities and morris. I was wondering if there were any music majors or theatre majors who would be willing to tell me how the program is and if you enjoy it, some of your fave things or challenges, etc.

thanks in advance :)
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I would HIGHLY recommend UMM to anyone, first of all! The music and theatre programs definitely have their plusses and minuses, although you should be aware that they rarely collaborate. They have a general tradition of only producing musical theatre about once every four years. That being said, there is also an Opera Workshop class, where students get to be involved in scenes from Broadway musicals and operas. It's pretty cool.

The theatre discipline is really small. They had 7 or 8 seniors that graduated last year, which is a lot for the theatre discipline to produce in a graduating class. The benefit of this is that everyone knows everyone and gets to work with everyone, which can be very cool. I worked as a theatre publicity assistant for 2 years, and I can honestly say it was probably one of the best things I did while I was in school. On the other hand, I know that the student theatre group, Meiningens, had a lot of problems with the faculty. The faculty pretty much wanted to run Meiningens, or at least be the brains and the power behind the operation, which created a lot of tension between the students and faculty.

The good thing about the faculty is that they, for the most part, really know what they're doing, especially in the classroom and during theatre productions. One of the professors, Ray Schultz (who is in charge of publicity) knows first-hand what it's like to be an actor out in the real world, since he did that for quite a while before teaching. He still acts during summer break and whenever he can fit it in, so he is a real asset in that he has theatre connections in the real world.

The music discipline is a LOT bigger, although most of the music students are in education rather than performance. I have a music minor and was in one or both of the choirs all four years I was there. The professors are really excellent, and the music majors are all really close. (Plus, the majors practically live near the practice rooms.)

The faculty is mixed, but I'm sure you'd find that most places. They really know what they're talking and teaching about, but I've heard horror stories about the band director during private lessons, even though he's excellent as a director. If you're really interested in music theory classes, you should know there are only 2 full years available to students. But you can arrange a directed study class with the professor who teaches theory if you're interested in furthering education.

There are 2 excellent assets to the music discipline, in my opinion, although some people might disagree. Ken Hodgson, who directs choir, is one of the nicest, sweetest guys ever, and he's a fantastic director. Also, I believe he is fairly well-known and highly-respected among high school and college choir directors. He makes his choir feel like a big family, which is what it really is. The choir is really what made me decide to stay at UMM after I'd set my mind to transfering. Hope Koehler is the other asset. She teaches a couple classes, but mostly holds private voice lessons. She is still "out there" performing in operas and recitals, and, for performance majors, I can't imagine there's anyone who could be more helpful than her.

The big music thing at Morris is the Jazz program. Every year, the jazz bands hold a Jazz Fest, where high school students come from all over the state (and, I think, from South Dakota, too) to participate in clinics taught by professional musicians and clinicians. Morris jazz students also perform in three concerts, along with the professional musicians who are also teaching in the clinics. It's very cool and one of the few events that keep alumni coming back year after year.

Anyway, this is probably WAY more information that you were hoping for, but I hope it helped some. If you want to talk more about Morris, I'd be happy to email you. You can reach me at kond0012@morris.umn.edu. Good luck on college hunting!
that was actually a LOT of helping, thank you, and i'm totally adding you to my address book for when I start searching further. the truth of the matter is, i started looking at morris because the jazz director you'll be getting this coming year is my old jazz director (his name is Joel Vanderheyden, he was also a student there for undergrad) and to think of being away from him for a year or more is killing me - he's SUCH a cool guy, and so i'd love to be under his direction again. My issue is, i'm a vocalist and the majority of programs out there for singers is all opera or classical based, and I was hoping to have something more on the contemporary lines, at least doing musical theatre pieces and such, and of course jazz - but so far the only college i've found that isn't classical based is Berklee in boston and i'm getting more confused each day lol

also, i've done a majority of music credits already - i'd be transferring from a local community college, and maybe they'd let me retake some of the levels of theory and aural skills - i can find out from admissions but anyway i think i'm babbling ;X thank you so much!! :)
Joel's coming back to teach? Sweet deal, he's a great guy--I might have to find a way to come back for Jazz Fest next year.

Don't discount the classical side of music training too much; there's a reason it has persisted for so long. When I look at the number of professional vocalists out there whose voices are utterly destroyed by the time they're in their fifties (why, dear God, why do the Rolling Stones still tour??).... The singers I've heard whose voices still sound good after thirty or forty years of professional singing have all been classically- or operatically-trained. Ella Fitzgerald, for example.

Anything else I have to add has been pretty substantially canvassed by the above poster, but I'll say that while I wasn't a music major or minor, I did spend a lot of time with them (between choir for the five years I was there, and just having a lot of musician friends).

Good luck in your search and decision!
I don't have much to add (there's not much room to add what the above poster posted), but I will add this: while the theatre program is small, you do get the oppertunity to participate in many ways besides acting. If you've eever been interested in the more technical aspects of theatre, you'll get the oppertunity to do so (whether it's in a disciple show or a Meiningens show).
thank you! so even if i don't become a theatre major and i decide on music, i'd still be able to be in or help out in a show, yeah?