Texas Wesleyan’s Department of Music has grown rapidly in recent semesters and is expected to grow even larger.
The increase includes more than 20 new majors since last spring, and along with more students there are more opportunities, including the establishment of a pep band and an orchestral band.
“If you walk into a wind ensemble room right now, they pretty much fill up the stage,” department chairman Dr. Jerome Bierschenk said. “When I first came here there were six or seven students in that ensemble. To have a healthy music department you need a healthy band department, choral department, orchestral department, and piano department.”
Department coordinator Janna McKinley said music has 57 majors, up from 37 last fall and 34 last spring. There are also 10 music minors and non-minors who play in the department’s ensembles.
Both Bierschenk and McKinley claim the short term goal of the music department is to have 100 music majors.
“We are already halfway there,” Bierschenk said.
McKinley said that while the rapid growth has put some strain on the already aging Ann Waggoner Fine Arts Building, the new students coming in is wonderful, as is seeing older students come in and act as mentors to the younger students.
“If we continue growing eventually we will need a larger facility,” McKinley said. “We do our best to make sure that people are working together to get their practice and classes in.”
McKinley and Bierschenk believe the quality of music education at Wesleyan has contributed to the increase in students.
“Schools around here are asking to hire Wesleyan graduates for their music education programs,” McKinley said. “I feel like our reputation is just growing in the community.”
Bierschenk also said that the establishment of a pep band, which would play at Wesleyan football games, could also be contributing to the increase in students.
He said the band could begin playing as soon as next spring in preparation for the football team’s games next fall.
Nicholas Squares, a senior music major, said that the music department definitely needs a new building.
“This building has at least been on fire twice,” Squares said. “It’s a pretty old building, but to me that’s what makes Wesleyan special, the old buildings.”
Squares says that Wesleyan is very uplifting and allows students to learn in a positive environment.
Junior music education major Rachel Tomlinson says it is great that the department is growing.
“Practice rooms are sometimes really full, but that is a good thing,” Tomlinson said.
Bierschenk acknowledges that challenges may come up such as classroom space, rehearsal space, and instrument storage space.
“What we do here at Wesleyan is that if we have a problem we figure out a way to solve it,” Bierschenk said.
Bierschenk believes that the department is prepared for the any upcoming influxes of students due to a fantastic faculty that really pay attention to students’ needs.
“Any student that wants to come here that’s considering music as a major regardless of their backgrounds, they will find a spot here,” Bierschenk said.