Opinion: St. Rose’s Music Industry Program – the Other Side

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Editors note: This is an opinion piece from Juliana Castrillon Cadena, a recent graduate of the College of St. Rose music program and a local musician.

After reading the third article on this matter (Times Union: St. Rose music faculty sue over layoffs) I wrote about my experience in my notes app. Now I’m sharing this here.

I was lucky and blessed to get a college education at the College of Saint Rose. The music industry (MI) program provides amazing opportunities for motivated students who look for an integral and well-rounded education in so many facets of the industry. I’m sad that these articles have been promoting my former MI professors as “less than” because of their lack of seniority. These professors are incredibly qualified, honest, and most importantly they care about their students SO much.

What these articles fail to address is how little some plaintiffs cared about their students. I wish we could look into their notorious tension between MI professors deeper cause the stories from alumni are unbelievable.

Having a curriculum that fits the needs of students but doesn’t follow a traditional track isn’t a bad thing!!! We’ve been begging as students for a refreshed curriculum that can actually help us navigate the industry.

I can’t help but feel like these professors are placing the blame on the wrong team here. Just because they have a personal vendetta against the MI program doesn’t take away the fact that the Music Education program had a decline in their enrollment by 43%. The fact that the MI program made the money and enrolled more students than all other music programs combined gives me the impression that the MI faculty was and is actually moving in the right direction.

Traditional music education is important to the extent of its relevance. I’m blessed to have learned theory, piano, and ear training. However, as a Colombian woman in the states, the only time we considered any sort of Hispanic music at all in non-MI courses we talked about an American composer who traveled to Puerto Rico and wrote pieces inspired by that… Where’s the visibility here? Why is an American’s interpretation of someone’s culture more important than the source itself? I can’t begin to imagine how black students felt about their story being brushed over too… At least my MI professors showed immense interest in uplifting South American music for example. Even though there’s room to grow, I felt included, encouraged, motivated, and seen.

If your program and curriculum fails to update itself with better standards that show proper representation to all diverse/underrepresented students, then I’m sorry but you gotta go. Not only because no one wants to subscribe to a program that doesn’t reflect your current needs, but because it’s wrong to pretend that history doesn’t include us who aren’t Americans, or those who aren’t white.

I wish the cut actually had been about the curriculum being outdated and whitewashed. But it wasn’t even about that!! It was about how little money the other music programs were pulling in!! So in my opinion we got lucky that the college could get rid of professors that were always so against change and evolution.

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