From brand-new pianos and a new faculty member, to the huge potential for student success, there’s a lot for the Mt. Hood music department to be excited about going into the 2017-18 school year.
In their first meeting of the year, music majors learned that the school has acquired 10 brand-new upright pianos for the practice rooms in the performing arts department, as well as a new Yamaha 7-and-a-half-foot grand piano for the College Theater stage.
MHCC had been using a 9-foot concert grand “from the late 1970s and it was battered and worn, torn and tested, and was not serving its purpose anymore,” said Choir Director Kevin Lambert. The college eventually had to stop bringing professional musicians to perform here because it was a subpar instrument, he said.
The new grand piano came as a result of a partnership with Classic Pianos, a company located near downtown Portland that is owned by a former MHCC student.
“They worked out some special pricing between their company and Yamaha, in terms of the builder of that piano, to sell us this grand piano at a steep, steep discount,” Lambert said. “So, we finally have this beautiful, brand new instrument on our stage and we cannot wait to have concerts in our own space here at home.”
The music meeting also served as a chance to build community at the beginning of the school year.
“A lot of our students will be spending the majority of their Mt. Hood time here in these couple of hallways,” said Lambert. “We want to make sure that it’s a comfortable, productive space for them to do their work, and to have people around them who care about what progress they’re making, and just kind of make this our own little music community inside a much, much larger school.”
The department has also welcomed Danielle Davey, who will be the symphonic band director and also teach some of the academic core music courses on campus. Davey, the wife of MHCC Jazz Band Director Dan Davey, comes from Beaverton’s Westview High School, one of the biggest high schools in the state.
“She was their band director for two years and did a phenomenal job at revamping their symphonic band program, and boosting the numbers and the quality of music coming out of there,” Lambert said.
Students will also be learning how to successfully complete Mt. Hood’s music program in two years. Lambert stressed the importance of prospective students talking to someone in the music department as soon as possible if they want to major in music: “If somebody comes to us right away, we’re able to help steer them in a direction that allows them to complete in two years, rather than having to tack on a third year.”
For any new Mt. Hood students who played in band or sang in a choir in high school, but don’t want to major in music, there are still opportunities to continue to be involved in those activities, he noted. Anyone who can play an instrument or has experience in a choir can join an ensemble.
“Approximately 15 percent of the singers in these two (MHCC) choirs are actual music majors, and that means that 85 percent are not, and that’s totally fine,” said Lambert. “There’s not reason to lose out on some activity that you loved at the high school level just because you’re not turning that into your job.”