Florida A&M has always been noted for its exceptional music program. The accomplishments of the instrumental and vocal ensembles have set our music department apart from other Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Now the music department wants to add another accomplishment to its list of accolades.
The music program has played in pivotal role in university recruitment. According to the registrar’s office, the music department has produced 250 vocal and instrumental teachers and more than 1,200 students are studying a subject in the music department. That number continues to grow and university officials say it is due to the growing interests in music programs offered at FAMU. With all of the interest, why is there not a school of music?
William Foster, former chairman of the music department, had a vision to enhance and develop a quality music program at FAMU. That dream seems to have died despite the program’s accomplishments. However, no one is at fault; hopes to establish a school of music are often butchered by budget cuts. Julian E. White, chairman of the music department, wants to change that.
White has made it his mission to make Foster’s dream come into fruition. “Funding would be needed to start a school of music here on campus. We have the vision, dream and diversity for the musical arts but without funding from the university Board of Trustees and alumni, our plans will have to be but on hold,” said White.
Verbal support is appreciated, but this venture really needs monetary backing. This money is needed because when cuts are made in education, the arts are usually the first to go. Taking on a school of music at FAMU would be costly, as more comprehensive music programs would be needed in order to be effective. “Strategy and planning for specific educational courses are vital when thinking about a creation of an additional school within a university,” said University Counselor Eugene Matthews. “We truly have a professional staff in the music department who are professional masters of their craft. There is no doubt that the creation of a school of music at FAMU would attract even more virtuosic musicians who would love to add to the musical vision of the program,”said White.
The establishment of a school of music would be great for FAMU as it would be the first HBCU to do so. It would also be a fruitful venture since we already have the intellectual foundation to start the school. This would also set an example for other HBCU music programs, which also serve as major recruitment tools for their respective schools.