Alone in a white room, with just a piano and music, Cody Martin, senior from Mascoutah, Ill., feverishly runs his fingers over a piano for hours every day.
Seniors in both the music and art departments are looking toward senior recitals and art shows before they even think about graduation.
Requirements of those with a bachelor’s degree in music include playing 50 minutes of music, all of which must be memorized. The senior recital is required.
Martin said he has played the piano since he was 7 years old.
“I am pretty much self-taught,” Martin said. “Music has been my greatest gift for sure.”
Last spring he also completed a concerto performance with the orchestra, where he played Gershwin’s Concerto in F.
Martin said he practices each day for at least two to three hours and has been working on this set of music since the beginning of last semester.
“There is an immense amount of work required to merely learn and memorize all of this music,” Martin said. “Aside from actually adding artistic elements and communicating to the entire audience through the music.”
Grading for senior recitals is pass or fail. Students receive an A or an E, but it is a zero-credit-hour course for which they must register.
“I am very excited; my program is filled with some of my favorite pieces, all of which will be quite enjoyable for the audience, I think,” Martin said. “There are technically demanding pieces, as well as some of the most beautiful, sensual music ever written for piano.”
After graduation Martin will begin work on a master’s degree in collaborative piano at Florida State University.
Martin said his ultimate goal is to instrumentally direct musicals on Broadway.
Cornelius Hocker, senior from Greenville, Ky., said his recital will be a culmination of seven semesters at the University. “It’s showing the public what’ve you done,” Hocker said. “I’ll be playing all genres of music from modern to romanticism and a traditional hymn.”
Sonya Baker, assistant dean and professor of humanities and fine arts, said the music students study their instruments for four years in preparation for their senior recitals.
“They work toward goals at the end of every semester,” Baker said. “When they have the senior recital, that’s when the students are singing and playing at their best.”
Students who are completing a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science, however, will have a 30-minute recital.
“Because students spend so much time on their music, this is what they are most proud of,” Baker said. “They want to show off what they have been doing for the last four years.”
She said the required recital lets the students gain performing experience and gives them the opportunity to put a show together from start to finish.
“Most students rather have their parents come to their senior recital than to graduation,” Baker said.
Along with seniors who are fulfilling a music degree, senior art majors have also been in the process of constructing their own art shows.
Susan Morton, senior from Knoxville, Tenn., is presenting a show titled “Hearth,” which will go on view March 28.
“Hearth is a restaurant that is focused on hunger relief in the Appalachia area,” Morton said. “I am creating the branding and all visual elements in the show.”
All bachelor’s in fine arts students are required to organize a personal art show.
“I have been working toward this show for the past three semesters,” Morton said. “I hope to get some beautifully designed materials for my portfolio and the experience of organizing a show from beginning to end.”
Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said it gives the students a chance to showcase another step of completion of their education.
Robertson said recognizing the students for their accomplishments and time is paramount to the University.
“It’s a way of showcasing what you have,” he said. “They put a lot of time in it; recognizing the work they’ve done is important.”
He said it is critical for faculty and staff to support the students with their art shows and recitals.
“It’s not just the athletic teams that have put a lot of time and effort into what they are doing,” Robertson said. “Our students are very talented students.”