Next fall, Mercer’s Townsend School of Music will potentially welcome the largest incoming class in its history. Currently 66 prospective students have auditioned with additional auditions to take place in the next few weeks. With this influx of potential Mercer musicians, there are several factors contributing to the increased numbers. One major influencer is the growth of Mercer’s recognition in athletics. With a record-breaking season for football and the recent success at the A-Sun championship, the familiarity of Mercer’s name has had positive effects for recruitment. Townsend students specifically have also made a name for their school. The instrumental program tied for the most students in the All-College Band for the Georgia Music Educator’s Association. Students in the voice department have placed winners at the National Association for Teachers of Singing annual vocal competition. The organ department includes winners at the American Guild of Organists competition. McDuffie Center for Strings students have placed in and won a variety of national and international competitions. Townsend also received a significant amount of publicity for the nation-wide broadcast of “A Grand Mercer Christmas,” which successfully represented the abilities of Mercer musicians. The deadline for prospective students to commit to the school is May 1. Dr. David Keith, dean of Townsend School of Music, said, “Most of the students that we are attracting are excellent performers who are trying to decide between Mercer and other peer institutions.” He explained that college selection is an important process. “All schools are unique and there are many good institutions that will provide a great place for students to improve their musical skills. However, it must be the right fit,” said Keith. Townsend has its own unique qualities to offer prospective music majors. This includes smaller class sizes, one-on-one mentoring, a faculty that genuinely cares about the students and seeks to hold them accountable, outstanding performance opportunities in wind ensemble, jazz, choir, opera and orchestra, a comprehensive educational program, and a state-of-the-art building and an accoustically intimate performance space (Fickling Hall). “I’m sure there are others, but this is what I speak to parents and prospective students about what makes Mercer different. I use the phrase ‘Music Matters at Mercer,’” said Keith.
Excitement for the potential growth is coupled with a desire to maintain quality of experience as well as level of student performance standards. Both Townsend faculty and students are recruiting and building up the reputation of TSM’s quality musical education.
“I couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities that are in front of us and I’m grateful for the support of the administration, the office of admissions, faculty and students that are working extremely hard to show that ‘Music Matters at Mercer,’” said Keith.