Monday, October 5, 2015

Welcome to the Music LLC!

Hello there!

(Our LLC Banner)

Welcome to the Music Living Learning Community!  My name is Eli, I'm the community's RA.  I'm writing to you all from within the LLC.  Every LLC has one unifying factor that its residents share.  As you might have guessed, the majority of residents within this community are either music majors, or very invested in music.  It's a fantastic opportunity for new musicians to meet their peers and immediately create important connections.  Each of these students was a musical champion at their high school; they were a big fish in a little pond.  Here, they have a lot of room left to grow.  That can be very frightening, but it can also be tremendously exciting.

This is my second year working as an RA, and my first working in the Music LLC.  Previously, I was the Honors LLC RA.  While the Honors Community was wonderful to me, I feel that I'm better equipped to work for students within the Music LLC.  Becoming a music major is not an easy choice, and it poses some unique psychological dilemmas.  Music students frequently question how realistic their decision is: will they ever get a job?  Are they good enough to make it?  Would they be happier doing something else?  As a choral education major, I've grappled with many of these ugly thoughts, and I hope that in using my experience I can help these students realize the answers to some of their own questions.

(One of our dilemmas)

Between the Music LLC lead by myself on the third floor and the Dance LLC lead by my Co-RA Shelby Larson on the fourth floor, Platform West and Three Quarters was predicted to be a very social, very active floor.  Thus far, those predictions have been spot on.  Ever since move-in, the students have heavily utilized our lounge space.  They have watched movies together, held game nights, and have even discussed difficult topics like religion in a forum style.  I can't remember a night in these past three weeks that hasn't had some sort of activity happening in the common space.  I've been thrilled by their eagerness to learn, and to grow.

As the Music LLC RA, I want to provide programming to meet the needs of the LLCs residents.  One such program was devised by myself and the LLC's peer mentor, Michael Fenner.  On the first Thursday of classes, Michael brought in his PA system, and I encouraged students to come down to one of our large performance spaces to put on an Undergrad Vaudeville, a variety show that would feature many diverse talents from both the Music and Dance LLC.  To the delight of Michael and myself, the night saw approximately forty spectators, and over twenty performances.  The night stretched beyond our anticipations, and before we knew it we had filled two and a half hours with performance.  This ranged from jazz clarinet improvisation to a rock cover of a theme from Pokemon Gold/Silver.  The aim in events like this is to continually remind our residents of the fun that can be found within music.  Studying music professionally changes your relationship with music; many people lose that sense of fun.  We want to make sure it remains.

The other event that I've hosted thus far this semester was modeled after the TV show the Amazing Race.  This was designed to introduce students to various locations in downtown Milwaukee, some large scale and some that might be a little hidden.  I contacted several locations downtown, and asked if they would be willing to help me facilitate just such an event.  After playing e-mail tag for a week or two, we had a race for our residents to run!  Utilizing the bus system, students navigated through Downtown Milwaukee to find these various sites, and complete challenges at each.  It was a beautiful day, and the students had a fantastic time!

(One of our groups of racers)

As the year progresses, I look forward to learning more about these exceptional young people, and sharing in their triumphs, struggles and in their moments of absurdity.  While being a professional music is a very technical trade, above all the music that we produce must feel right.  Truly, this community feels right; And that is very exciting.

Until next time, folks!

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