USM’s Music Department gears up for a successful semester despite the budget cuts threatening to cripple the University. Utilizing its own resources to strengthen its programs, the Music Department took measures to ensure that its students don’t suffer needlessly through the financial uncertainties the University is encountering.
By applying for and receiving a $4000 grant from the Rines/Thompson Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, the Music Department will soon add a new piano to their collection of practice instruments. School of Music Director Scott Harris arranged for the transfer of a Mason and Hamlin baby grand piano purchased from Bowdoin University’s music department this past Friday.
The purchase is crucial to the department because all music majors must demonstrate a functional use of the piano before earning a degree. This requires completion of four piano courses before graduation. Harris said although there are “enough pianos to keep a piano tuner busy,” there are never enough pianos for the 196 students in the Music Department.
In addition to the purchase of the piano, the department was able to raise money for student scholarships this past holiday season. By hosting an auction, the Music Department recruited various artists to donate jewelry and artwork. Other individuals and businesses contributed by donating higher value items such as trips. Over 345 people attended, and the event successfully raised $35,000 for music scholarships.
Harris is excited about the semester and said the biggest challenge facing the department now is a lack of space. “We’re bursting at the seams in Corthell Hall,” Harris said.
Located on the Gorham campus, Corthell Hall is a historic building. In addition to being insufficiently soundproofed, the Music Department is beginning to outgrow the building like a child outgrowing last summer’s shoes.
With the implementation of a music graduate program likely to begin next fall, the Music Department’s growth won’t slow down any time soon.