Why You Should Take Swarthmore Music Lessons

Lang Concert Hall in Swarthmore’s Lang Music Building. Pictured on the right is our silver organ, which acts as an incredible addition to the landscapes of music that the Swarthmore Chorus, Orchestra, and other ensembles paint in this room every year!

Here at Swarthmore, the Music Department plays a huge role in many-a-student’s academic comings-and-goings. Lang Music Building, which houses said department, also acts as a site for aspiring Swattie musicians to do what they do best: practice, perform, and have fun!

There is a specific program in Swarthmore’s Music Department that is very important to me and many others, which I am going to describe/explain today. Before I can do that, however, I will need to talk about Chorus (Music 043), as it is a class I took in my first semester and every semester since. I started taking private voice lessons before the start of middle school. Over 8 years later, I am still spending time improving my voice talent and participating in activities around campus that utilize it. Chorus holds a very special place in my heart due to the fact that, since high school, I have continuously met some of my closest friends and peers through communal concerts, recitals, and other performances. It is always a class I enjoy walking to every Wednesday night.

While chorus is a lot of fun and will always stay with me, when I first began to think about moving in at Swarthmore and how I wanted to structure my first year, I also thought about those voice lessons I took up until college and how I would continue them at Swarthmore. I was worried that setting up a connection with a new voice teacher would be stressful, possibly require off-campus transportation, or otherwise be much more complicated than I wanted, especially while I acclimated to all the other in-depth aspects of college life. Luckily for me, Music 048 was there to rescue me! The music instruction program at Swarthmore changed my first-year experience in an incredible way, but before I talk further about my experience with the program, what even is Music 048?

When you sign up for chorus for the first time, you will need to audition (with any prepared piece of your choice) for the choir director during the first week of classes. Although chorus requires no prior vocal experience, this audition helps place you in your voice group. In that same week, you also need to decide if you want to audition for Music 048. This audition is in front of a few music faculty, and all you need for it is another prepared piece (or the same one) and an eagerness to take private lessons! Now, Music 048 includes not only singing, but there are also many instrumental teachers available as well! From percussion to tuba to the flute, any instrument you want to audition for lessons with is fair game! If there are no hired instructors for what you want to practice, Swarthmore can hire one for you specifically! To summarize, Music 048 gives you a semester of subsized private lessons on a music topic of your choice for academic credit!

Alright, so let us say that you have now auditioned for both chorus and Music 048 and are wondering what comes next. Well, performance classes like chorus (or other similar courses) are actually prerequisites for Music 048 and allow you into the program! (A prerequisite is a class that you’re required to take before, or occasionally at the same time as, taking another class.) Great, so now when do those lessons begin?

Once you are signed up for Music 048, you get around 10 subsidized (or for many students, free) lessons from a professional instructor! Yes, you heard right! Swarthmore then helps pay for your lessons each semester you take Music 048! And all the classes happen on campus once a week, within easy walking distance from your dorm room! This program was such a relief for me from all those worries I mentioned earlier, and I am planning on continuing to take it along with chorus in my future years here! Music 048 really opens up opportunities for anyone to get practice and performance skills in the music department and increases accessibility for those aspiring music students that the Lang Music Building is such a wonderful space for. I definitely recommend Music 048 for any future Swatties interested in learning a new instrument, honing talents with an old one, or, in my case, continuing a long tradition of singing for a healthy mind, heart, and soul (I hope to see you in Swarthmore’s Chorus soon)!

If you want to learn even more about the program, feel free to follow this link there!