Student-led music club fosters encouraging learning environment

Cadenza is a blossoming student-oriented club dedicated to teaching basic music skills in a low pressure, open and friendly environment. Students of all majors and levels of experience are welcome. The club held its first official meeting on Tuesday Feb. 7. 

This unique club began to take shape in the spring of 2015 when a group of music majors realized that they were all struggling with similar topics in class. Coming together on their own, these students began to host informal workshops to help each other with their studies. 

Part of being a music major requires learning skills that may be outside of one’s specific instrument or expertise, so students who were more experienced in certain areas—such as piano skills or music theory—would take turns hosting the workshops. Students with different musical backgrounds could share their knowledge and help each other become more well-rounded musicians. 

Over time, these workshops became more regular, as they began to draw interest from an increasing number of music majors. A few participants realized that people of all majors and skill levels could benefit from these sessions, however, and decided to make it an official interest group on campus. 

Cadenza is currently led by two of its founding members, sociology major senior Katherine Zaslavsky and French major senior Noah Weiss, both double majoring in instrumental music. 

From the very beginning, Cadenza has been almost completely student-led and oriented. It offers something that a college music class can’t: an opportunity to improve music skills or to learn something new at your own pace and without the pressure of grades or credits. It can be a learning supplement or a hobby; attend only a workshop or two, or attend weekly. 

The only staff involvement is from its advisor, adjunct faculty in music Jim Tiller, who stands in as conductor every so often.

The club held an interest meeting on Jan. 31, where students shared their ideas for specific topics or areas of music that they would like to learn about more. The material is always determined based on the needs and the interests of members, as anyone can suggest ideas for workshops, regardless of skill level. 

The material is often focused on music theory basics and on filling in the gaps with material that some musicians may not have been exposed to in class or in high school. This year, however, Cadenza is starting off with a basic piano workshop, with no prior experience necessary. 

One main difference between Cadenza and other campus clubs is that it’s not cumulative in any way—you can pick and choose what meetings you’d like to attend based on the material being shared. There’s no final performance, no auditions and no requirements; it’s all about learning.

But it’s not all business all the time. Every so often, Cadenza will host a musical game night with random questions about various famous musical works and the scandalous behavior of historic composers. (They were the celebrities of their day, after all.)

While Cadenza is a great opportunity to foster a budding interest in music with no strings attached, it also opens a way for students to become more involved in the music department.

The music department has many resources that can be used to expand upon any area of interest. Did you like learning solfège and sight singing? Maybe consider the voice class for non-majors. Want to expand your piano knowledge a little further? The music department offers piano classes as well.

As of right now, Cadenza is only a few members large, making for an intimate but laid back learning atmosphere. The club has potential for growth, however, and is a great example of how we should be encouraging exploration of the arts.