This is what happens when you tell performing arts folks you want to take their picture! Mark Neal and department chair Ricky Burks with WSCC performing arts students.
HANCEVILLE - On Friday morning, the faculty, staff and students of Wallace State Community College's (WSCC) Performing Arts program opened the doors of the Burrow Center for the Fine and Performing Arts to prospective students. Nearly 30 guests were introduced to all instructors, and were treated to performances by the WSCC Jazz Band, Wallace State Singers and a song and dance number from the program's recent production of "Singin' in the Rain." Then instructors and guests divided into smaller breakout sessions focused on specific options within the program.
Performing groups and opportunities
*Concert Band - open to anyone who has previously performed on or played an instrument
*Jazz Band - membership by competitive audition
*Pep Band - membership selected from the Concert Band; performs at WSCC home basketball games
*Concert Choir - open to anyone; performs multiple styles of choral works
*Wallace State Singers - membership by audition; a music revue/jazz ensemble
*Wallace Vocal Jazz - vocal ensemble focused on the genre of jazz music
*Theater - puts on one play and one musical per year, plus student-directed scenes
*Dance - a new offering, with classes in modern and jazz dance
Ricky Burks, chair of Fine and Performing Arts, Jazz Band
Jacob Keisler, instructor in music theory, Symphonic Band
Mark Neal, instructor in guitar, bass, percussion, recording technology, Pep Band
Tiffany Richter, director of choral activities
Sara Markham, instructor in piano, voice
Lauren Cantrell-Salerno, director of theater
According to Burk, around 126 students are currently enrolled in the program. Department Secretary Stefany Pate noted that more than 50 of those students are on scholarships. The small department size translates to smaller class sizes, and more personal attention from staff and instructors.
"We're small enough to help you," said Neal. "You're not just a number. We think we set you up so when you transfer, you're ready to take the next step. A lot of times, I think, we're more active than some four-year colleges."
"I enjoy singing/playing/etc., but..."
If you enjoy performing arts and WSCC's program sounds interesting to you, but you don't see yourself pursuing a career in the field, that's okay. They are also interested in part-time players, and will even give scholarships to people enrolled in non-arts majors, based on auditions and departmental needs.
According to Burks, "The biggest misconception is that you have to be a music major, or art major or theater major to come in and receive scholarships, and that's not true. Anyone can come in. If you've had prior band experience, played in any of our area high school bands or anything like that, you can come in and we'll give you scholarship money to play in any of our ensembles, any of our choirs. Just because you're not a music major doesn't mean you're not a valuable part of our department. With the Jazz Band, there are kids up there who are nursing majors, engineering majors, the whole gamut."
In addition to a student's regular application for admission to WSCC, the Performing Arts Program requires auditions, which can lead to scholarships. Two audition days are currently scheduled for the 2017-18 academic year: Feb. 10 and Mar. 3; on both days, auditions will be held from 8 a.m.-noon in the Burrows Center. Appointments are not necessary on those days. Anyone who can't attend either day can contact the school for an appointment.
According to Pate, "All they have to do is contact us, and we'll be happy to see them for auditions. It's just better to come to the audition dates, because we're going to be giving out our scholarships, and we don't want them to miss the opportunity."
The final word
Neal summed up the performing arts student experience: "It's a family. Just watch our kids here. It takes them a while, but they become a small family. They're always attached at the hip, and they support each other, and that's good."
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