Exceptional Education - Winter 2014

Exceptional EXPRESSION

It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough – it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.” – Steve jobs

The Arts at Mount Union

In 1846, Orville Nelson Hartshorn shared his vision for an institution where “science would parallel the humanities.” Today, that vision continues with Mount Union’s robust visual and performing arts programs preparing both fine arts and non-fine arts majors for meaningful work beyond the University.

For senior biochemistry major Amanda Myhal, participation in Concert Choir has enhanced her college experience and helped prepare her for challenges outside the classroom. In fact, one of her favorite professors is Dr. Grant Cook, associate professor of music and director of choral activities.

“Dr. Cook has always told us to ‘learn to love to rehearse,’ meaning that most of the time, you will be doing behind-the-scenes work rather than being in the spotlight,” Myhal said. “While this was originally presented in the context of choir, he has encouraged me to apply it to all other aspects of life. For example, in college, I will spend more time studying for an exam than actually taking it; in researching, I will spend more time working alone in the lab than presenting my findings at a conference.”

Senior art and theatre major Jacob Ward plans to use the professional preparation he has received at Mount Union as he pursues a career in art education. He will student teach through the Chicago Semester Program in the fall of 2015 and hopes to land a teaching job through that experience.

“Working together with all types of people in college is a precursor to the type of work environment that is common in the ‘real world,’” Ward said. “In a school setting, there are plenty of different views on what is the most important thing to teach. But, instead of arguing and creating discord, it is all of those different views working together that make the best conclusion become a reality.”

Students at Mount Union have the option to study in one of five visual and performing arts majors – art, music, music education, music performance and theatre. In addition, students have multiple opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities in the arts. Whether it’s singing in the choir, marching in the band, designing a piece of artwork or performing in a theatre production, majors and non-majors alike can pursue their dreams on the stage, behind the scenes and in the classroom.

“At Mount Union, we are committed to providing all of our students with exceptional opportunities for engagement in artistic, musical and theatrical endeavors no matter what their majors or career aspirations,” said Dr. Patricia Draves, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the University. “These programs provide for exploration and unveil new ideas and concepts while broadening the cultural horizons of our community.”

Department of Music

Mount Union’s Department of Music offers two degrees – a Bachelor of Music (B.M.) degree in performance or music education and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in music. The Department of Music has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) since 1935.

In addition, Mount Union offers more than 25 performance groups on campus with a robust schedule of recitals and concerts that are open to the public. Student showcases, held every Thursday morning, give students a chance to perform in front of an audience filled with faculty members, students and other members of the Mount Union community.
“Students receiving a B.M. degree in performance or music education will engage in successful careers as performers and elementary, middle or high school teachers,” said Dr. Patricia Boehm, professor of music and chair of the departments of Music and Theatre. “Students earning a B.A. degree in music are able to hone their skills in musicianship and focus on a primary performance area while also completing coursework in another academic discipline. These options allow for music majors to choose from a variety of career paths while pursuing interests in music at Mount Union.”

Outside of the classroom, music students at Mount Union can also participate in honorary band fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi, professional music fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon, Ohio Collegiate Music Educators Association (OCMEA) and Music Teachers’ National Association (MTNA).

Department of Theatre

The theatre major is structured to provide students with a broad foundation in all areas of theatre as preparation for teaching, graduate study or careers in professional theatre. The University’s theatre program offers a number of performances each semester that highlight the talents of Mount Union students.

Theatre students can also participate in Mount Union Players, a student-led organization, and Alpha Psi Omega, a national dramatic fraternity. Mount Union’s chapter provides recognition for exceptional theatre students and offers occasional  workshops concerning a range of theatre skills.

According to Boehm, theatre majors are encouraged to become involved in professional theatre opportunities during summer breaks in order to prepare them for auditions following graduation.

“Through professional theatre, students can gain experience and start to develop their portfolios,” Boehm said. “We’re also working to develop a new curriculum for the major so we can expand students’ horizons and make sure they have all the experience they need to audition for roles when the time comes.”

Department of Art

The Department of Art at Mount Union offers a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree with four possible concentrations – art education, art history, graphic design and studio art. Students who earn a B.A. in art receive a broad-based knowledge in the studio arts, art history and art education. Some go on to graduate school, some seek jobs in art education and some head straight into the workplace.

In addition, students in many other disciplines benefit from taking art courses as part of the Integrative Core. According to Margo Miller, associate professor of art and chair of the Department of Art, visual intelligence – understanding how to see subtle nuances among colors, textures and shapes – is essential for future engineers who will design cars, machines, roads and bridges. Graphic design skills prove helpful for students who pursue degrees in business and marketing. A student entering the medical field might benefit from learning how to work with his or her hands and three-dimensional objects.

“It’s amazing how art concepts interact with other classes and other disciplines,” Miller said.

Outside of the classroom, students have the opportunity to participate in Kappa Pi, a student-led art honorary, or “Calliope,” Mount Union’s student-led literary and art magazine.

Community Outreach

Students involved in the visual and performing arts at Mount Union benefit from the institution’s strong community ties. The local community is rich with talented artists and musicians, and students often get the chance to interact face to face with community members in a number of venues.

The Mount Union Alliance Chorale and Alliance Symphony Orchestra are two community programs that bring Mount Union and community musicians together to perform. In addition, the University has a relationship with Carnation City Players (CCP) in downtown Alliance and student shows have been performed at CCP’s Firehouse Theatre.

“Music and theatre are performance arts,” said Boehm. “I believe we teach our students to support each other as emerging artists. Our audience members understand this also, and offer tremendous support for our teaching and learning.”

Boehm noted that students are able to gain a great deal of experience by performing alongside members of the community.

“Many people in community groups have a great level of skill in their performance art,” she said. “When you’re a new freshman sitting next to that person, there’s a lot of learning that goes on through that experience.”

The University’s Department of Music also reaches out to the community’s youth with offerings such as the Preparatory Division, which allows young musicians to learn about music and take instrumental or vocal lessons at Mount Union.

“Preparatory Division meets the needs of the child who is home schooled but wants to have music lessons and keep music in their academic lives,” Boehm said.

Through the Preparatory Division, Kindermusik classes are available for children aged 18 months through seven years, offering participants early, positive and age-appropriate experiences with music.

Furthermore, the annual ArtFest, sponsored by Mount Union and the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce, features artwork by local and student artists showcasing various media. The event has been taking place for 50 years and allows students to interact with artists from the surrounding area and display their own works as well. In addition, the University’s Department of Art offers eight public shows per year, which feature work by visiting artists, students and faculty members.

Mount Union students are finding and pursuing their creative outlets.

Whether it’s performing in a vocal or instrumental ensemble, taking a painting class or acting in a play, the visual and performing arts at Mount Union are preparing students for meaningful work beyond graduation. Read on to find out more about how the visual and performing arts are enhancing the learning experiences for students both in and out of the classroom.

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