Eastern has a long history of teaching the fine arts, especially fine arts education. The odds aren’t half bad that you may have had a music teacher in elementary school that came through Eastern Michigan University. With such a great program there is a wide variety of ensembles, almost always looking for new members! That also means dozens of great concerts to listen to each and every semester.
Firstly, there is the Orchestra. The Symphony Orchestra is made up of around 70 string, woodwind, brass and percussion players. The students are a mix of majors, minors and even some non-majors. The orchestra plays a wide array of music, from a very traditional classical orchestra repertoire, to participating in the Music Now, a festival held at EMU every other year to celebrate music being written right now. A particular local favorite is the yearly Halloween concert. It focuses on fun orchestral music that gets local children involved. Many wear costumes; it helps them to match the orchestra who are dressed in theme by sections. So if you’ve ever wanted to see Dumbledore jam out on an upright bass, or Mario and Luigi dominate the horns with a bottle of mustard backing on keyboard this might be the concert for you!
Next there are the bands. There are a couple of different tiers of bands. The concert band, established in 2011, has a mix of non-majors who are interested in staying in an ensemble and further develop their individual and majors who might be learning a second instrument. There is no audition necessary and the band is open to all members of the University. Wind Symphony, on the other end of the scale is made up entirely of performance majors that tackle some extremely challenging music. With a commitment to cultivating new wind repertoire, the ensemble has participated in many recent commissions, and continues to host and collaborate with respected composers and conductors across the state. Auditions here are competitive and held at the beginning of every school year. In between the Concert and Wind Symphony is the Symphony Band, so there is a place for musicians of all skill levels and interest levels. This band is open to non-majors, but does require an audition.
Aside from traditional concert style bands, there is also the marching band. Over 200 students march at every home game during the football season. All incoming students will audition at Pre-Camp held before the yearly Band camp. This audition is for part placement and consists of playing your full range chromatic scale, the Eagle’s Fight Song, and sight-reading. The band practices are during the week Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 4:05-6:05 p.m. and Sat. prior to games or events, so it easy to build a schedule around the band.
The band program wouldn’t be complete without the Jazz bands. There are multiple combos that play America’s greatest musical invention, and more are created every year based on skill level and instrumentation. The Jazz big band is comprised of approximately 20 members. Membership is open to all EMU students by audition the first week of classes. They rehearse Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:00-5:30 p.m., Room 106, in the Alexander Music Building.
Maybe instruments aren’t your thing? They’ve got you covered with a range of choirs. The choir program have an ensemble for everyone! They believe that singing is a life-long adventure and want you singing throughout your collegiate career. Their goal is to provide a wide variety of ensemble experiences that will broaden and deepen your perspective. Music and singing are experience for everyone. All are welcome regardless of past singing experience or major.
If you would like to be a member of the University Men’s Choir or the University Women’s Choir simply register and show up on the first day of class. It’s that easy! These ensembles are open to all students, faculty and staff. Just go to your e-mich account and register for University Choir MUSC 131. If you would like more detailed information on these ensembles please visit their web page and set up a time to visit with Dr. Brandon Johnson
The Chamber Choir, however, requires an audition and is a year-long commitment. There are some exceptions to this rule so it never hurts to contact Dr. Johnson to express your interest. The Chamber tours across the state, nation and globe singing in venues that range from Carnegie Hall to a local High School classroom. They truly live by the motto, “You are what you repeatedly do therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle
Now that you’ve found out quite a bit about music, it is time to look behind the ampersand and look at the school of dance.
There are several different paths to pursue in the dance program. Dance therapy, studio management, teaching, performance and choreography–the career opportunities you’ll find as a dance major are as varied and powerful as dance styles. The EMU dance program combines core classes with dance therapy, studio management, teaching, performance and choreography. Modern dance, ballet, dance history, teaching and choreography can be complemented with supplemental jazz, tap, ballroom, hip-hop and world dance forms training.
Your performance and choreographic opportunities include appearances with the EMU Moveable Feat dance tour ensemble; main stage concerts in Quirk Theater and Pease Auditorium on the EMU campus; informal showings in Studio 106 and annual participation in the American College Dance Festival.
Numerous master classes and guest artists with regular residencies will pack power into your performance and academic studies. The Cunningham Company, Hubbard Street Dance Company, Demetrius Klein, Pilobolus, Lyon Opera Ballet and Ron Brown are among our past master classes. Lori Bellilove, Biza Sompa and Lisa Nicks of the Doug Elkins Company have shared their unique talents and skills with guest artist residencies. Jazz and hip-hop choreographers routinely offer classes and opportunities to perform their works.Dance pairs so well with many other majors and minors. You could also always use the dance therapy track to pursue a graduate degree in a fast growing field.
So whether you are interested in fine arts as a way of life and career, or just a passionate hobby you’d like to keep up and stay involved in, the EMU Music & Dance Department has it all.