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Fine Arts Department expands band and choir offerings to Ridgeland and Grenada

In Fall 2021, the Fine Arts Department at Holmes Community College will be offering opportunities to perform for students interested in the band and/or choir classes on the Ridgeland Campus and choir on the Grenada Campus.

Holmes decided to offer these classes because the Fine Arts Department saw a need to expand these opportunities to all three campuses. Many students needed a way to showcase their talents and love for music, which started at the high school level.

“Some unscientific research and study indicated that students enrolling on the Ridgeland Campus with previous music experience on the high school level, did not have an outlet to continue to gain instruction and enjoyment through music,” said Benny Edwards, Director of Choral and Vocal Music.

“Additionally, students could declare music as a major, but there was only one music course being offered,” Edwards said. “Consequently, those students would need to transfer after only one or two semesters so as not to fall behind on their pathway to graduation. We thought we could address those deficiencies by offering more options.”

“Many of our students on the Ridgeland Campus have previous experience in band or choir, but because our ensembles rehearse on the Goodman Campus, they have largely been excluded,” Assistant Band Director Terry Miller said. “We want to offer them the opportunity to continue to grow musically through taking applied lessons. In the lessons they can prepare audition material for a university band upon transfer, or they can rehearse the music our ensembles will be performing on the Goodman Campus.”

Miller said he hopes by offering this opportunity to the other campuses, the size of the performing ensembles will increase.
“We are targeting experienced musicians, not beginners,” Miller said. “If I can teach students the music on the Ridgeland campus, and they will commit to attending all performances and a specified number of rehearsals with the full ensemble (in Goodman) those students will be eligible for scholarships.”

“It remains to be seen how this offering will impact the current ensembles,” Edwards said. “To a large degree, it will depend on how many students participate. If, for example, there are enough students to make up an ensemble that covers all the parts, it could stand alone as a separate ensemble to perform. However, if the choral balance does not support that option, the students can join with the larger ensemble housed on the Goodman Campus for performances.”

Students can participate to either increase their skills or receive a credit with the expectation of performing at their campus and/or with the full group established at the Goodman Campus.

“The expectation varies according to which class they sign up for,” Miller explained. “If they simply want to improve on their instrument without joining an ensemble, the college should provide them that opportunity. If they enroll in an MUO class (Music organizations), the expectation is that they learn the music and perform with the group.”

“Expectations for choral students will be to meet class and rehearse twice weekly, seeking to learn their music for a presentation or performance,” Edwards said. “Required performance participation will be determined according to the balance of parts each semester. Especially as we begin, it is likely that the singers will combine with the Chorale students in Goodman for performances at homecoming, holiday concerts, or the end of the semester concerts.”

There is no limit to how many students can take advantage of this opportunity.

“It is difficult to guess how many students will join our performing ensembles,” Miller said. “It might be three or could be 30. I believe that many students miss performing and will want to join. The fact that they can earn college credit hours and possibly receive scholarships are pretty good incentives as well.”

“The interest on Freshman Friday was positive,” Edwards said. “I would think that 12-16 singers would be a great start. We have rehearsal space for twice that number. Currently there are 6 pre-registered for Choir. MUO 1211 is the registration course number. Auditions and part placement evaluations will continue until the last day to add a class.”

Both Miller and Edwards agree that making the students feel they are a part of the bigger picture is key to making these offerings a success.
“They will rehearse with the larger group enough to get to know others in their section,” Miller said. “The pandemic has taught us all that we have to learn to adapt. Furthermore, I wholeheartedly believe that our Goodman students will enthusiastically welcome the addition that their talents will bring.”

“As much interaction as possible builds community,” Edwards said.

The classes were offered this semester at the Grenada Campus as a pilot program. Some conflicts arose later in the semester, and these students weren’t able to participate in the semester-ending programs, but Edwards said it was a positive experience and thinks things will be on-track for the fall.

“Going forward, our plan is for our students to connect more frequently to build more community, and I will strive for better scheduling to avoid conflicts,” Edwards said. “I think the fact that I will be directing rehearsals on two campuses will be a unifying denominator. Also, students will be welcome or perhaps required to attend rehearsals on the other campus if the preparation load demands it.”

For more information about these offerings, contact Terry Miller at temiller@holmescc.edu, Benny Edwards at bedwards@holmescc.edu or Jacqueline Meek at jmeek@holmescc.edu. Click on Enroll now at holmescc.edu to get signed up today.

Equal Access/Equal Opportunity
Holmes Community College does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, citizenship, age, disability, veteran status, or genetic information. Employees, students, applicants for admission or employment, or other participants in Holmes Community College programs or activities who believe they have been discriminated against are entitled to seek relief through the Compliance Officer, Dr. Stephanie C. Diffey, (662) 472-9429. Written inquiries may be e-mailed to: compliance@holmescc.edu or sent to: Compliance Office, P.O. Box 369, Goodman, MS 39079.

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