For students with prior proficiency in an instrument, the music department offers individual instruction in a variety of instruments for a semester fee. These courses are offered by a number of professors depending on the instrument of study, and they are accompanied by studio courses once a week in which students learn together.
“The lessons are the same as a course and have a syllabus and exams,” said David Heller, chair of the music department. “There is a very strong academic emphasis.”
Individual instruction has been offered since very early in the department’s history. It is offered now to students both within and outside of the major, given that they are accepted by the professors offering instruction. Students who are interested in taking part in individual instruction must contact the relevant professor and arrange an audition to become that professor’s student. It is expected that students already have some level of proficiency in the instrument they desire to be instructed in.
The cost of individual instruction is $400 per semester, with varying credits given depending on the availability of the professor and student. Thirty-minute sessions count as a single credit, while hour-long sessions count for three. These credits include the required studio course, which meets once during the week and involves group instruction with other students. The instruction follows a syllabus designed by the professor, and there is a final exam in the form of a playing examination. During the exam, students are evaluated by instructing professor as well as a number of others, and the audience reviews the student’s progress and his or her playing style. The results of this playing examination affect the final grade.
“[Individual instruction] is part of our whole vision of offering a wider education,” Heller said. “It enhances a student’s education, for them to have this opportunity.”
Students who are not yet familiar with the instrument they would like to play are encouraged to enroll in the course “Foundations of Communication through Music,” which offers instruction in some of the fundamentals of music. Other courses provide an introduction and count towards students’s Common Curriculum credits, including “Introduction to Music History” and “Music Cultures of the World.”
Beginning courses in guitar, piano and voice are also offered for students. While some students can be taught with no prior knowledge, it rarely happens and usually requires some proficiency in either music or a related instrument, such as learning to play the organ with a background in piano.
Students interested in individual instruction should contact the music department to learn which professor teaches courses on their instrument of interest, and then they should contact this professor about availability and auditions. Auditions are held when first years enter the university but are also scheduled as necessary at other times during the year.
“Engaging in purposeful and informed musical performance requires high levels of concentration, skill, thought, awareness and knowledge,” said James Worman, coordinator of winds and percussion. “Such activities should not be limited just to music majors, and these private lessons are [a] manifestation of the mission of Trinity University.”