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Rose-Hulman's Music Minor Attracts Creative Students

June 28, 2011

"In just three years the program has grown so much we decided it was too much for one person to do," Gary Turner says.  Turner, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's Coordinator of Music Programs, is referring to the college's music minor, which is a recent addition to Rose-Hulman's Humanities and Social Sciences Department.  Rose-Hulman is currently in the process of hiring additional directors for its jazz ensemble, string ensemble, concert band, and chorus to accommodate the interest in its music offerings.

   Music Minor


Turner, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who returned to college to "scratch [his] musical itch" by gaining his M.A. in music theory, developed the courses required to obtain a minor in music at Rose-Hulman. His Music Theory I is the most popular of the music courses, as it highlights the engineering aspects of music and composition.  "It's the nuts and bolts stuff-it's math, it's acoustics," Turner explains.

Four of the five courses required for the music minor also fulfill humanities requirements.  So while many students take music courses without declaring a minor in music, Turner says, "If that's an area that interests them, it makes sense to declare the minor."

Kendra Lyons, engineering physics major from O'Fallon, Ill., says that the opportunity to pursue her love of performing arts was one of the deciding factors that motivated her to choose Rose-Hulman.  "When I was in high school music was a really big part of my life," she says, explaining that pursuing an engineering degree rather than a music degree was a difficult choice to make.

Lyons, a vocalist, says that she was encouraged by the top-notch facility and performing arts programs at Rose-Hulman.  "When I found out that Rose-Hulman had such a great drama program, and great facility in Hatfield Hall, I knew I wanted to come here." Being able to parlay her love of singing into a music minor was an added bonus.  "I was really excited when I heard about music minor," she adds.

Conor Mack, percussionist from Arlington Heights, Ill. agrees.  "I've been playing in bands since I was in 5th grade," he says, "but at Rose-Hulman I couldn't always rationalize spending the time performing." That all changed, however, with the addition of the music minor program.  "Now I have a chance for that creative release, and have it count for credit," he notes.

Mack has also enjoyed learning more about music theory and music history.  He comments that as a percussionist, one of his favorite assignments was writing a paper on ethnic music. "It was a really cool opportunity to delve more into the world of music."

"Lots of students thought they were going to have to give up playing music to be here," explains French horn player David French, of Stillwater, Okla. Such musicians are pleasantly surprised to find that Rose-Hulman not only offers a variety of performance opportunities, but now offers a minor in music as well.

"The music minor program includes both the ability to play music and the ability to learn more about what I do as a musician," he adds. On the practical side of things, French says, "It's nice to get credit for something you'd do anyway."

Performing Arts Director Bunny Nash says that she often talks to prospective students who are interested in music and performing arts opportunities. "A lot of students I talk to are just so thrilled to be able to pursue that here," she says.

Turner agrees, adding, "This is definitely a recruiting tool for Rose-Hulman."