Staying active after high school

Allison Smith

Hobbies such as band, choir and acting can be continued

As you walk down the hall of the Music and Speech Building, you can hear familiar tunes floating from the room where the Flasher Brass, the band that plays at basketball games, practices.

When you open the door, a wall of the brass version of “I’ve Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas hits you. Each student is focused intently on his or her music.

As the song ends, the absorbed students’ faces quickly change from focused to smiling and laughing. The atmosphere changes, the musicians joke around and talk about what they need to work on in the piece.

Despite the casual atmosphere, you can tell these musicians have a mutual respect for one another. They are really more than friends — they’re a family.

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Amy Wooley said joining the marching band her freshman year at Kent State really helped her feel more at home.

“You’re so used to doing it in high school that it’s like you want to do it in college because you want to have something that you know you can do,” the sophomore music education major said. “It’s not going to be like getting dropped into a psychology class and not having any idea what to do. You have that one thing that you’re very much certain that you’re going to be OK at.”

Wooley said she made a lot of new friends in the first week of marching band. She said the marching band plays at orientation, and they all wore the same shirts so they could identify each other.

“It’s kind of like a safety blanket. You walk around and you’re like, ‘Oh I know these people so I don’t feel so empty and alone at this school,’ kind of a thing, which is really important,” Wooley said. “I have the best friends that I’ve ever met in my entire life in these bands.”

Brian Abrams, senior music education major, said he thinks getting involved with performing arts clubs like Flasher Brass is important for students.

“You get involved in a lot of different aspects on campus,” Abrams said. “It adds another layer onto that, another extracurricular. Adding another dynamic, I guess, to the normal student experience.”

Wooley said students don’t have to be music majors to join Flasher Brass or the marching band.

“A lot of music majors do it just for the experience, but we have tons of people who aren’t majors,” she said. “Just to continue their hobby, their high school passion.”

“I’d say at least 50 percent aren’t music majors,” Abrams added.

Abrams said playing for Flasher Brass is more than just playing in a band.

“It’s also about the social identity that we create with each other, “ he said. “You make a lot of new friends and we become like a family.”

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Scott Curfman, the director of athletic bands at Kent State, said students can find information about joining a band on campus at the band Web site,

“We have jazz bands, we have concert bands, we have a marching band,” Curfman said. “All of them you earn credit to take them as courses, however none of them create an overload.”

Curfman said music organizations are credit classes that are also activities. He said the students spent a lot of the time and energy learning the skills in high school, and they are cashing in on those skills at Kent State.

“It’s a very comfortable atmosphere,” Curfman said. “The students have people to go to the games with, so that’s a big part of it. Plus, there’s an opportunity for artistic expression.”


Singing in choirs is another musical opportunity for students to participate in. Scott MacPherson, the director of choral activities at Kent State, said students don’t have to be a music major to sing in a choir.

“Our groups are open to any students of any background or any major so you don’t have to be a music major to be in any one of our specific ensembles,” MacPherson said.

He said three of the choirs are non-auditioned groups: the Kent Chorus, Men’s Chorus and Women’s Chorus. Students interested in those groups would just register on FlashLine and show up at the first practice.

“The director of that group would give them a voice placement hearing,” MacPherson said. “It’s not an audition, they would vocalize just to see what their top and bottom range would be in order to place them in the proper voice part in the choir.”

MacPherson said the other two choirs, the Kent Chorale and Ars Nova are audition-only, but being a music major is not required.

“One of the things that makes students most nervous about participating is, ‘Do I have to know how to read music?’” MacPherson said. “Although it helps to be able to read music to a certain extent, it’s not a requirement of the non-audition groups simply because we believe that we can teach the music.”

MacPherson said students benefit from joining clubs like choir.

“The main benefit is, likely students who don’t major in music, they likely sang in choir, often times, in middle school and high school,” he said. “Sadly, a number of people just think, ‘Well I don’t have time to participate,’ or ‘I can’t, I’m not good enough to get in.’ There’s this illusion out there that you have to be a music major, so I hope I’ve made it clear that you don’t.”


There are a number of ways to get involved with theater arts at Kent State, said Cynthia Stillings, director of the School of Theatre and Dance.

She said there are classes that are for theatre and dance majors, but are usually open to non-majors as well.

“If somebody really wants to take a class, they can. All they need to do is call us,” Stillings said. “We serve the majors first, and then we open the classes up to non-majors if they don’t have a prerequisite.”

She said another way to get involved is through a student organization. These organizations include the Theatre Roundtable, the Students Striving for the Enhancement of Technical Theatre, Kent Dance Association, the Student Dance Education Organization, the Black Theatre Association and the Portage County Players.

“All of those meet regularly,” Stillings said. “There’s a student organization call board down the hall right across from our green room. And they’re all meeting within the next couple of weeks.”

She said for students who want to perform, the shows are not restricted to theatre majors. Last year’s “Rent” cast had a non-major in a leading role.

“The auditions are open to any university student,” Stillings said. “For the fall shows, they’ll be the first two days of classes in the fall semester, and for the spring shows, the auditions are usually held the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving.”

She said the last way for a student to get involved is to call and say they want to volunteer and where. Stillings will put them in contact with a student or faculty member who is in charge of the area the student wishes to participate in.

“For example, this coming Saturday is a big paint call, so anybody who likes to paint scenery can come,” Stillings said. “We’ll be working all day on Saturday.”

Contact features reporter Allison Smith at [email protected].