What’s New with the Parkside Music Department

Where would we be right now without music? We’d probably be bored out of our minds and missing out on one of the greatest contributions to culture…ever. Music is something that you don’t need to know another language to really understand, though it’d be nice sometimes. Luckily, Parkside has an excellent and very large music department.

They have over 60 concerts presented annually and they even plan to expand and teach more staff. Students have a choice of several majors, and a couple minors, to follow for a fulfilling, lifelong experience. There are many career opportunities for graduates in music, including the ability to teach music at elementary to university levels.

There’s even applied music courses taught by highly qualified teaching performers. These courses include instruments like the oboe, bassoon, cello, trombone, classical guitar, clarinet, and multiple others.

To learn more about the music department, I asked Dr. James McKeever to explain more to me. This year is his 29th year at Parkside and he’s been the chair for 16 years. He is also involved in the planning and necessities of the new buildings. He says he’s been involved in “everything in terms of designing the building.” He came to Parkside from Kentucky, for the multiple opportunities for him and his wife, and both have been pianists for 35 years.

The music department is involved with the community as well. The faculty takes groups of students into local schools and performs for the students. This endeavor is usually headed by Professor James Kinchen.

Dr. McKeever tells us that for the first time on campus a concert hall, Bedford Concert Hall, will be erected. Professor Francis Bedford made a huge contribution to the project; therefore, the building was named after her. As well as the concert hall, the new building will contain rehearsal rooms and music technology rooms. All of the faculty will be in the new building with practice rooms averaging 90 square feet to 200 square feet. Next year the number of full time professors may increase from 7 to 8 as well. So there are some very big and influential expansions to the music department forthcoming.

As for the musical genres, the department specializes in classical, with it being the largest, and Jazz as well. Dr. McKeever says that pop and contemporary music are very important current genres that can be taught and have a lot of demand. Musical training is classical though. He states that “If you learn the discipline for classical, you can branch out and do any kind of music.”

Dr. McKeever says the best part of his job is that he gets to do so many different things. From performing on his own to teaching his students, the job is very rewarding. If he could choose a new genre to bring to Parkside, it would be different cultured music to teach and study.

I’ll end with our good Dr. Mckeever’s final notes: it’s “a really exciting time to be in the arts at Parkside.”

Article by Reshad Burchfield

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