Small Arts Program? These SHU artists are finding a way

 

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Photos courtesy of Jordan Green, Anna Carpenter, & Taji Steele, edited by Megan Beauchamp

Despite having a small arts programs artists at SHU are taking advantage of the opportunities a modest theater and music major can provide.

Seton Hall isn’t a big university, which was actually the appeal to some of the students who wanted the best of both worlds. A small arts community with the potential for personal growth, while still being close enough to staples of the industry like Broadway. While some majors at the Hall like international relations and business have buildings, music majors have what can be described as, half of a hallway with four classrooms.

“I came to Seton Hall because I knew I wanted to work in the city,” said Anna Carpenter a music and theater double major. “I loved that it was not too big, not in the city but close enough that I could go there whenever I wanted to.”

Carpenter, who is graduating this year, describes the arts program as a place where your experience reflects the work you put into it. But it isn’t always that easy.

According to Taji Steele, a junior and theater major at SHU, “I think that both departments really deserve their own full space to cultivate the crafts of all of their students.” There are two professors in the theater program. It would seem a given that acting classes would be a requirement of the major but a quick search on the Seton Hall academics page lists Acting I & II as only electives.

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Taji Steele (left) acting in the production of As You Like It

For Steele, it’s simple: consistency and more hands-on experience. Many of the courses offered within the program are history based, which she admits is necessary, however as much as it is, real acting training is still needed.
Aside from the required ‘Principles of Acting’ and ‘Performance Lab’ courses there is no other acting class required of theater students.

Though the music major has more of a staff, the facilities are still lacking. There is only one dedicated music room space for students to rehearse with an instrument or practice vocals. Although there are opportunities to take lessons for voice or an instrument, lesson teachers have to use the offices of other professors or classrooms, instead of designated practice rooms.

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A baby grand piano sits in the corner of the sole practice room in the Music Center, however, students can practice any instrument they wish in this room.

But as much as the students can point out the flaws of the programs, they did make the decision to come here. Like Carpenter said before, there is something to be said about the experience.

“A program can be big in ways other than the number of majors,” said Dr. Dena Levine, the Department Chair of Visual Media and Performing Arts. “Their [prospective students] decision to attend one university over another is based on what kind of meaningful arts experience they will have.”

Creating meaning is something Jordan Green knows all about. As a junior and music education major, Green is involved in the theater production of Twelfth Night and four music ensembles, one of which he took the initiative to start.

“The program puts out what you put in. I have worked very hard and I feel like I have gotten a lot back,” said Green.

What can be physically said about the arts here at SHU is that it is a small program, however making the most of what it can offer appears to be a must. Carpenter, for example, worked on the off-Broadway show, Heist! in New York City this Summer.

While there may be frustration in the lack of facilities and staff, one thing seems to remain true. The students remain for the love of the arts.

“The students within the program are really what makes it keep going,” said Carpenter. “All of the students are very passionate about what they do and they want the program to grow.”

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