Pfeiffer brings back bands, music education – The Stanly News & Press
At the end of August, the new Pfeiffer University Wind & Percussion Ensemble began rehearsing every Monday evening for a concert on November 2 in the Henry Pfeiffer Chapel. The formation of the group is one of the many steps that Dr Joseph Earp, its director, is taking to restore the major in music education to Pfeiffer from the fall of 2022.
“Any honors program in music education requires its students to perform in instrumental and choral ensembles,” Earp said. “Thus, the Wind & Percussion Ensemble is vital to the prospects for success of the music education program, as are the Pfeiffer choral ensembles, which are already thriving under the able leadership of Joe Judge (class of 1987). I want people to see that Pfeiffer’s bands are the real deal. We’re going to do something about it.
By “bands,” Earp also meant Freddie Falcon’s House Band, a dynamic band who have also started rehearsing for their debut, which will take place at a Pfeiffer basketball game this winter. He will perform the University’s first fight song, for which Earp, also a prolific songwriter, writes the music and lyrics.
Earp, a trombonist with a PhD in Music Education from Liberty University, is interested in enrolling 10 majors in Music Education at Pfeiffer for the 2022-2023 academic year. In four years, if all goes according to plan, that number would increase to around 25 or 30.
The Wind & Percussion Ensemble would grow from its current 13 members to between 35 and 50 members. Like Mila Rutter (class of 2023), a junior environmental science major from Gold Hill, many of the players in the group won’t be majoring in music education or music. Instead, they will continue to practice music as a serious hobby, which would be consistent with a culture that encourages Pfeiffer students to participate in several extracurricular activities.
“I still want to play the trumpet and I want to learn how to play the drums,” said Rutter, who has performed in the East Rowan High School March and Jazz Orchestras. “I don’t intend to specialize in music, but I want to keep playing as long as possible. So the Wind & Percussion Ensemble was great for me.
Earp’s recruitment strategy will build on his successful experiences during his pre-Pfeiffer days as a builder of instrumental music programs, first at Cox Mill High School in Concord (2009-2017) then at Limestone. University in Gaffney, South Carolina (2017-2021). He will highlight the benefits of Pfeiffer’s culture when it comes to music education: “One of the special things about Pfeiffer is this little school experience. When you walk into an orchestra hall, for example, I’ll know more than your name. I’ll ask you how your classes are going and I’ll help motivate you to get things done for your classes.
Earp is a first generation student and his doctoral dissertation focused on the experiences of first generation students in an undergraduate music education program. Thus, he gets along particularly well with future first-generation university students who plan to follow in his footsteps in music education.
Earp will showcase his talents as a conductor as a guest assistant during rehearsals for the high school groups he visits. This could mean leading a section of a group or criticizing the balances and other delicate points of the whole. This way, future students will get a good idea of Earp as a teacher / conductor.
Earp wants to attract potential students to the Misenheimer campus in Pfeiffer. One way to do this already exists: it recruits ensemble members from local community colleges and already has seven who have joined the group. Another way, which was also tried with success during Earp’s stay in Limestone, will be to bring together the best high school musicians in the area in an honorary band that rehearses and performs in Pfeiffer under the direction of a leading clinician.
“The likelihood of them dating Pfeiffer increases dramatically if you can get them on campus,” he said.
Finally, Earp works with other faculty and administrators to make the university’s music facilities more attractive to future music education graduates who visit his Misenheimer campus. One of the main priorities is to enlarge the stage in the Henry Pfeiffer Chapel, where the ensemble will perform, as it is too small for a concert orchestra. Another priority is to attenuate the too bright acoustics of the chapel with acoustic panels.
Pfeiffer’s new music education majors are said to be the first to graduate from college since the spring of 2014, four years after the phasing out of the music education major began (Pfeiffer’s board of directors approved the return major in music education at a meeting in June). They would leave college both as generalists capable of doing “any kind of work” in K-12 music and as specialists revolving around one of three areas of music: instrumental, choral or elementary.
Earp is quite optimistic about the employment opportunities for these graduates, noting that some parts of the region will need music teachers as new schools are being built to cope with the growing population. He also points out that there is always a certain turnover in teaching.
“There are a lot of jobs available and available,” he said. “I look forward to helping launch the careers of the next generation of Pfeiffer-trained music teachers. “
Want to go?
What: Under the direction of Joseph Earp, the Pfeiffer University Wind & Percussion Ensemble will present their “Autumn Concert”. The program will include the first Pfeiffer from Earp’s “Hatsuhi Sunrise” for percussion ensemble, with the ensemble as percussionists. Also presented will be “Sing Gently” by Eric Whitacre (transcribed from a choir for instrumental ensemble, by Verena Mosenbichler-Bryant), “Deus Ex Machina” by Randall Standridge, “At Morning’s Light” by David R. Gillingham and “Declaration Overture” by Claude T. Smith. “
When: 7 p.m. on November 2
Where: Henry Pfeiffer Chapel on the Misenheimer Campus of Pfeiffer University
Price: free and open to the public
Ken Keuffel, author of this article, has been Pfeiffer’s Deputy Director of Communications since December 2019. He welcomes article ideas from professors, staff, students, alumni and friends of Pfeiffer. The form for submitting story ideas is at www.pfeiffer.edu/newsform.