University of Lynchburg’s instrumental and choral music programs are growing at an impressive rate; a master’s in music program is attracting students from around the world; community partnerships are introducing children to the joys of music; and national accreditation is on the horizon. “We’re still a work in progress, but we’ve come a long way,” said Dr. Cynthia Ramsey, chair of the Music Department.
“We happily welcomed another large class this semester,” she said. “The number of music students is steadily increasing as is the number of Westover Honors students who are involved in music. We have quality and quantity.”
Dr. Ramsey attributes the growth to Dr. Oeida Hatcher, former chair of the Music Department and now dean of the School of Communication and the Arts, and Dr. Jong Kim, professor of music and program director for the M.A. in Music. Both are sought after as guest conductors, adjudicators for band and choir competitions, and as presenters at conferences.
Dr. Hatcher strives to get as many students involved in music as possible. “I believe that music makes a difference in the quality of one’s life,” she said. “Those people who don’t like music haven’t been exposed to it.”
“Choral music is a reflection of our lives and has a special function in society,” said Dr. Kim. “I want to bring excitement to choral music, raise the bar, and have a choir that all choral musicians can be proud of.”
Dr. Ramsey believes that accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) will increase the value of a music degree from LC. “Not many schools in Virginia have this accreditation, particularly schools our size,” she explained. “The goal of this accreditation is to align our curriculum with everyone else in the nation. As a result, a music degree from LC will mean something on the national stage.”
The B.A. degree in music prepares students to become professional performers or music teachers. At present the College offers majors in instrumental and vocal performance, and music education with instrumental or vocal concentrations. Minors include general music, music for children, music history, and performance.
The M.A. in music provides advanced training in choral and instrumental conducting. The intensive summer program is one of the one of the few summer programs available anywhere, making it attractive to professional musicians who want to keep working while getting an advanced degree. Students come from Central Virginia and from as far away as Greece and Korea.
Katie Pyles, a 2011 graduate of the program, directs the Turner Ashby High School choir in Rockingham County, Va., which has been selected to perform at the Virginia Music Educators Association Conference at the Homestead in November. “This is a big deal in public school music,” said Dr. Kim, “and we are very proud of Katie.”
Matthew Booth, who also graduated in 2011, is now a staff accompanist for LC students and faculty. “My time as a student of the Music Department was thoroughly challenging and engaging,” he said. “Now helping my LC colleagues chase their musical dreams has proved the perfect springboard for me to begin specializing in collaborative piano. With the right commitment, anything is possible through LC music.”