A Shortage of Pianists at Ithaca College School of Music, Theater, and Dance frustrating some students because they cannot meet their support needs.
The majority of musical repertoire requires piano accompaniment, making it an essential service, and in some degree programs students are required to hold music recitals. In previous years, graduate students carried much of the coaching load; without these pianists, some students find it difficult to complete their degree requirements or perform the repertoire.
Charis Dimaras, a professor in the Department of Performance and Collaborative Studies, said the recent suspension graduate programs under the Prioritization of Academic Programs (APP) is one of the catalysts for the situation.
“The recent suspension of the majority of graduate music programs is what has created this difficult situation in [piano] accompanying resources,” said Dimaras. “Obviously this is a major problem in terms of the day-to-day running of the school.”
During the 2020-21 academic year, as part of its strategic plan, the college has set up Prioritization of academic programs (APP) treat. The APP recommended stopping four of the five music masters programs.
Frustration over the suspension of graduate programs is a sentiment shared by many students, including sophomore Advika Balaji, who expressed concern about the workload undergraduate pianists now have without the graduate program.
“The upper classes used to take a lot more collaborations than us and they were also a lot less busy,” Balaji said. “But a lot of collaboration [piano] the graduates also left, so since that was their priority, it just narrowed the lineup of backed singers.
Anne Hogan, newly inaugurated dean from the School of Music, Drama and Dance, said she plans to have meetings with faculty and students to determine the best course action for graduate programs.
“There will be a series of meetings to obtain student and faculty feedback, feedback that will be used to evaluate and review graduate programs,” Hogan said. “We will be looking to discuss and consider, and how we might want to take advantage of the [graduate] programs which are now suspended.
Some students shared their frustration with the current system and complains of disorganization. Katherine White, a junior vocal performance major, said she felt a sense of disorganization in the process of finding a pianist.
“You receive a list [of pianists] at the start of the year, and you have to go through the list and send them a whole bunch of emails individually,” White said. “It’s as if every man for himself. Yesyou must hope [a pianist] answers you. »
In terms of compensation, the majority of pianists in the School of Music, Theater and Dance are independent student pianists. who are not employed, and therefore not paid by the college. This forces students to negotiate prices and has led some students to complain about the cost and pianists from being underpaid.
“[Payment] is out of our own pockets. … OWe pay so much money to be here and [the school] can’t even spend on paying for a degree–necessary resource,” White said.
Balaji said he was concerned about the informal nature of payments for accompanying students not employed by the college.
“As an international visa student, because I am not technically employed by the college for support services, I do not have [Social Security Number]”, Balaji said. “I can’t get a credit card [or] build a credit score because of that.”
Ivy Walz, associate dean of the Center for Music, said that a few years ago there was a program for students to be hired by the college as part of their music program, but it was revised to exclude payment and hiring students due to administrative and payroll issues.
To help address the shortage, Walz has updated a Web page support resources offered by the college. Updated page now includes a list of staff pianists available to work with students and a form to request a permanent pianist for up to three hours of rehearsals per semester.
white said this while they are grateful for the additional resources, they expected more.
“I think it’s good that they’re making resources more accessible,” White said. “But the problem remains that we just need more resources available to accommodate every music student in the building.”
Hogan said it was important to hear student concerns and the best way for students to address their concerns was to take them to the dean’s office.
“I want to ensure students have multiple ways to provide feedback. Jhey could use the email firstname.lastname@example.org and we welcome ideas and suggestions,” Hogan said. “I will also have as many opportunities as possible to meet with students to discuss their concerns and suggestions. »