The Music Major Minute : Faculty Meeting Follies

Read a humorous perspective on what university music instructors might think about some bad student habits.

This article was originally published in Classical Singer magazine. To subscribe to the print magazine, go to www.csmusic.info/subscribe.

Dear readers, we are extending an invitation for you to participate in the next faculty meeting at Glorious Voices State University (GVSU). Your opportune moment to investigate the goings-on of a university faculty meeting takes place now, right here in this column. Go ahead and pour a cup of tea, take a seat, and read on. It is our hope at GVSU that you will take a mental note to put our agenda into action. You, dear students, are our hope for the future.

 

Agenda:

University Mandated Communication

Addressing Professors Appropriately

Extracurricular Lobby Activities

Concert Attendance

 

Wise Boss: Welcome faculty and guest readers. We are so glad you could make time to assemble today. Did you all get a copy of the agenda? Superior. Let’s begin with “University Mandated Communication.”

It has been brought to my attention that many of the faculty are experiencing difficulties getting in touch with students via email. Have the students read the handbook? No? Well, neither have I in its entirety, but surely the students know they are expected to check their email daily for university-related business.

Choir Director: I have sent out 700 emails in the last three days and the only response I have received was an email from Ms. L’absent detailing excuses for missing five rehearsals, which is amusing because she actually missed seven.

Piano Teacher: Students don’t email me. One kid told me they left a sticky note on my door, but I never saw it. It probably lost its will to stick, heaved itself to the floor, and caught a ride out of the building on someone’s shoe.

Voice Teacher: The students text me between midnight and 3 a.m. with predictions that they will not make their voice lesson the next morning due to studying for another class or feeling fatigued. One student left a voice memo and I could hear laughter and glasses clinking in the background. Do they think I am checking my phone in the middle of the night? I have devoted my life’s work to educating the artists of tomorrow. I feel as though the department should pay for me to get the iPhone 11 with a new number—then I will be fortified to keep calm and carry on.

Wise Boss: Doesn’t your spouse work for Apple? Can he get me an iPhone 11? Anyway, this is all highly unacceptable. Did you all give your students a syllabus with your email address and specific instructions to communicate with you through the official GVSU email?

Entire Faculty Thought Bubble: Yes, of course. Every semester we quote the university policy directly from the handbook and list our office hours.

Adjunct Professor: Actually, I emailed my syllabus to my students. I thought they would read it because in the subject line I wrote, “Won’t you be my neighbor and please read this email?”

Wise Boss: Rookie mistake. Everyone please pass out hard copies of your syllabi and verbally remind your students to check their email. Next item of business: “Addressing Professors Appropriately.” Dr. Voice Teacher, would you like to comment?

Voice Teacher: Do they still teach English in high school? My students seem to speak in text. They say, “Hey grl” and “Yas queen” and although I am devoted to their success, I want to instill a growth mindset and encourage them without correcting them.

Jazz Professor: Look, Dr. Voice Teacher, we are their professors and we are paid to correct them. Also, maybe if you take down some of those Keep Calm and Carry On posters, they will stop with the “Yas queens.” Personally, I’m done with being called, “Hey man” and “Later drone.” They don’t know me like that.

Human Resources Representative: Is this why I was called to this meeting? Does anyone need to file a formal complaint? If so, I feel compelled to warn you that is a stack of paperwork that no one is going to enjoy.

Wise Boss: Settle down HR, no one is filing any complaints today. I think our best course of action is to ask our guest readers to lead their fellow Gen TikTok students by example and to please refer to their teachers with their proper titles.

Opera Director: I have several theatre majors in my shows, and they are accustomed to referring to their faculty by first names. So I have spilled the tea and verbally invited the entire cast to call me Renata.

Wise Boss: It is true that theatre departments often operate on a first-name basis, in part because their terminal degrees are MFAs and not PhDs. Music departments tend to have more faculty with terminal degrees earning doctorates and we want to respect the work and experience that led to our titles. But, if you give the students permission to call you Renata, that is university approved.

Orchestra Conductor: Perhaps we can move on to the next item on the agenda. There are currently only two occupied practice rooms while over 20 students are playing Cards Against Humanity in the lobby. Next week we have an orchestra concert and midterm exams. Why aren’t the students studying or practicing? Consider me outraged and vexed and a bit . . . jealous.

Theory Professor: Midterm exams actually begin tomorrow. What is Cards Against Humanity?

Wise Boss: Those cards are dark comedy and entirely inappropriate for any university’s public spaces. Our lobby has always been meant to be a quiet place to wait for class or a practice room.

Choir Director: Well, it’s not always quiet. One student was playing his bagpipe yesterday right under the vaulted ceiling, and other students were practically screaming to hear one another over the noise. When I asked him to take it to a practice room, he continued playing most insolently as he walked down the hall.

Opera Director: Can we encourage our guest readers to organize study groups for their university common rooms and perhaps spill the tea on any gambling circles or other inappropriate card games in their hallways?

Jazz Professor: You keep saying, “Spill the tea,” but I do not think it means what you think it means.

Wise Boss: Enough! Please dear readers, we want you to be better than the students playing cards in the lobby. Occupy your practice rooms and use your public spaces to study or review notes before classes.

Now on to our final item of business, “Concert Attendance.” I know you are all concerned about your students leaving concerts early or not attending at all. What can be done about this?

Jazz Professor: Well, you all know we have students that think once their piece is done, they can just leave. These students have chosen to major in music and they are not fulfilling the easiest part: the sitting.

Theory Professor: Of course it is not just sitting. Attending a concert or recital requires concentrated listening and absorbing the sound and style of the music.

Jazz Professor: But why do they think they can leave? If their name is on the program, they are a part of the program. Do the guest readers understand this? Take a note, cats: not only will you learn more repertoire by attending concerts, you need to support your colleagues’ performances, or they won’t support the best show in town . . . yours!

Voice Teacher: We cannot stress enough how important it is to attend one another’s recitals. You know how hard you work to learn and memorize your music. The senior recital comes alive with the energy of a crowd of music students rallying for you. You will also improve your grades in music history and music literature when you experience live performances of the music you study.

Piano Teacher: Well, I hope the students attend the faculty recitals at their universities because that is the kind of inspiration that fills the practice rooms.

Wise Boss: Our students also need to greet the public after performances. Many of our donors attend concerts, and shaking hands could be the encore that finances future scholarships.

Orchestra Conductor: I feel gravely compelled to mention that the cellular phones glowing in the concert halls is an atrocity to music making.

Human Resources Representative: The cell phone situation is a potential legal problem when it comes to unauthorized videos of performances of copyrighted music.

Wise Boss: We can make a stronger plea at the beginning of concerts to not only turn phone ringers off, but to not look at them or use them as cameras during performances. The phones are distracting to both performers and fellow audience members.

Opera Director: Can we ask our guest readers one last favor? Resist checking your phones during recitals and concerts. Ask your friends to put their phones away.

Change starts with you. When a concert begins, simply put the phone away. Perhaps if you can make it till intermission or even the end of a recital to look at your phone, your BFF can wait too.

Jazz Professor: #NoPhoneConcertEtiquette—yeah, I can see that trending.

Wise Boss: Well, I think that is a paramount conclusion to today’s meeting. Thank you all for sharing your reflections about encouraging our students to learn and grow with professionalism.

Christi Amonson

Soprano Christi Amonson’s recent concert engagements include touring China as a soloist with Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra, “Easy to Love” pops concert with the Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra. Opera News described her sound as “liquid silver” after singing Nannetta with Chautauqua Opera. Amonson earned her DMA in voice and theatre under the tutelage of Grayson Hirst at the University of Arizona, where she has been an instructor. She earned her MM in Voice at the Manhattan School of Music and her BM in Music Education at the University of Idaho. In New York City, she sang with several opera companies and directed choirs for the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Urban Voices Program. She is currently assistant professor of voice at Troy University.