The Losing Score
“Private instrumental or vocal lessons form a necessary and critical component of every music major’s course of study,” said Chair and Professor of Music, David Brodbeck.
Music performance majors are required to have four years of private lessons and now that an extra fee is being proposed for those lessons, some students feel they just can’t come up with the extra $1350 per year.
“A lot of my friends right now are going through a struggle Because already, financial aid is cut. I know a friend whose working full-time and I think she’s doing 20 units to graduate on time. With the tuition fees going up too, this is really going to hurt her,” Said fourth-year music and international studies major Andy Chen.
Because the private lessons were included in their tuition throughout past years, the added fees have struck quite a chord with music students.
The news of this shocking course fee came in the form of a survey issued to music majors asking their approval or likely disapproval of the new course fee.
The survey read, “The high cost of delivering this one-on-one weekly instruction, coupled with unprecedented pressures on the university’s budget, means that we may no longer be able to fund the entire cost of this instruction from our regular budgetary resources.
“In order for us to continue to provide these courses, the department is proposing a cost-sharing plan, whereby enrolled students would be required to contribute to instructional costs by means of a course fee of $450 per quarter.
“It is important to note that this figure is in keeping with the practices of a number of peer-institutions and that, without such a course fee, we would be forced to institute a significant reduction in, and perhaps even a discontinuation of these courses beginning in Fall 2010.”
While the $450 course fee is still in the process of becoming enacted, UCI music faculty would like to have it in full effect by next fall.
Music students aren’t the only ones affected by the cuts.
The music department has reduced the number of instruments it will be teaching and only those instruments that which a full-time faculty member specializes in will be offered as a performance major according to Michael Desson, a music professor at UCI who has suffered a personal pay cut along with many faculty members in the department.
Reducing the number of instruments taught will eliminate the need for part-time private instructors for those instruments. UCI currently only has full-time faculty in piano, jazz piano, voice, violin, and guitar.
When asked to speak over the phone, Professor Desson said that his office phone line has been cut due to the budget.
On Wednesday, Oct 14, the UCI music department faculty faced the music from these disgruntled music students determined to have their voices heard at a town meeting in the UCI orchestra rehearsal room.
Students argued that the included lessons were one of the benefits that made the UCI music program appealing over other schools but now that they may have to pay an extra fee on top of a continually increasing, numerous students are questioning the worth of a UCI music degree over many cheaper community colleges.
While the course fee may seem unique to UC Irvine, The University of California, Santa Cruz implemented a very similar $415 course fee for the same reasons.
Some students also fear that the course fee will ultimately lead to the demise of the music program, rendering existing music degrees worthless due to the reputation of the program.
While that may be somewhat of a stretch, it is definitely having an effect. Second-year Noemi Perlas, a potential music major explained, “Well, I was planning on going into the music program but after hearing this, I’m really not sure anymore.”
It has become clear that budget cuts are effecting more and more facets of UCI and for music students, it blows.