KOKOMO, Ind. — At the end of a long day at Indiana University Kokomo, Gabriel Franks winds down with a cello lesson.
“This semester, it’s been therapeutic, coming from a long day of classes all day to play music,” he said. “It scratches a different piece of my brain I haven’t been using all day.”
This week, Franks is among students participating in recitals and concerts, performing perfected pieces for an audience, and demonstrating their musical progress for the fall semester.
Wendy Grice, senior lecturer in music, said in addition to the band and the Cougar Choir, students have taken private lessons this semester in flute, French horn, percussion, voice, violin, cello, bass, and piano.
Participating in a recital is encouraged, but not required, she added.
“It gives them self-confidence,” she said. “You’ve been working on these songs all semester, and the recital gives you a place to perform for someone.”
While the campus offers a Bachelor of Science degree in music in collaboration with IU South Bend, and a degree in music education, many of the students take lessons as an elective.
Franks, who is a history and political science major, is among those taking music as an elective. He’s played cello since fourth grade, and his IU Kokomo instructor, Christian Starnes, also was his teacher at Eastern High School.
“This is my extracurricular activity,” said Franks, from Kokomo. “It’s fun for me to invite friends I’ve made on campus to an event I’m participating in and gives them an opportunity to hear what their peers are doing.”
Starnes said participating in music enhances a student’s experience and makes them stand out after graduation.
“A lot of employers are looking for well-rounded individuals, people who do different things,” he said. “This just adds an extra dimension to the person. It also gives you a release. It’s a way you can enjoy yourself. It’s still rigorous, but it’s a different kind of rigor than other academic subjects.”
Grice agreed, adding that music classes give students a chance to make friends with people with similar interests.
“It gives the student something to look forward to that isn’t part of their regular academic classes, which helps with retention,” she said. “They are more well-rounded individuals when they are involved in the arts.”
Grice, who teaches voice, was especially excited to perform with students in the faculty and student recital – a new addition for this semester.
“Most of the students never hear their teachers perform,” she said. “It’s good for them to know their teachers are also performers.”
For more information about IU Kokomo’s music programs, contact Grice at email@example.com.