Since opening in 2001, the Rosemary McCorkle Music building has become home to an excellent group of student musicians. The Townsend School of Music has been the cause of thousands of performances made in its halls, and it’s because of this that there is no questioning the excellent presence it brings to Mercer University’s campus.
Regardless of this, there seems to be some sort of separation between the music school and the rest of the University. While Mercer students are given free access to nearly all shows put on by the school, there is still very little integration between the two parties. Music students live in the music building, and non-music students have nothing to do with it.
This is a shame, especially in a society where the fine arts seems to be dying out. Any small amount of research made on Google will turn up results pointing toward that. A survey made by the National Endowment for the Arts showed that the percentage of American adults visiting some sort of fine arts event has gone down from 39.4 percent in 2002 to 34.6 percent in 2008. That’s just one survey, but there are many other reports like that.
Mercer students seem to be just as much a reflection of that drop as the rest of the nation is.
But what might the cause of that be? It could be the lack of promotion on Townsend’s part. While there is a good amount of advertising off-campus for larger events, I have never heard about an event on campus, since starting my college career. Of course the (rather happening) schedule of events is posted on Townsend’s easy-to-access website. Really, though, it isn’t a great business strategy to make your customers come looking for you, unless of course your business is a funeral home.
The School of Music really needs to put more effort toward getting students interested in the events. This could be done with fliers posted in the Connell Student Center, Tarver Library and the Breezeway. The school always posts a large amount of fliers within the music school, but branching out is the name of the game here. The Fresh Food Company has the trifolds on each of the tables. Those provide a great way to get events known and talked about amongst the students.
All of these ways are great ways to get the students to come to Townsend, but why not have Townsend come to the students? It’s not uncommon for certain groups to start flash mobs in the cafe, or to simply start performing songs or even poetry on a whim. It’s exciting, and generates a lot of interest. One could only imagine the conversations that would be made if a string quintet simply walked in and started playing Vivaldi.
A great example of the Music School coming out of its shell was during QuadWorks’ Battle of the Bands, last October. Although they weren’t officially representing Townsend, it was obvious that FTM – the winners of the competition – was composed at least partly of music majors. The crowd loved them. It was a unique performance, and one that really stood out from the rest.
It would be easy to have an outside performance. Whether it be on the North Quad, or the newly-renovated Cruz Plaza, the natural acoustics of the buildings and the trees would carry the melodies of a musical performance greatly.
Things like that generate interest. Interest generates conversation. Conversation generates more interest. If Townsend were to do something along these lines, it would leave the Mercer students yearning for more. Really, why not? Even if nothing comes of it, a performance in the Caf, or on the quad could be a lot of fun for the performers themselves.
The main point of this is to rally both sides to action. Mercer students need to get more involved in the happenings over at McCorkle. McCorkle also needs to get more involved in the happenings outside of the music building. Only good can come of it. Music is powerful, and it’s important that it be shared.