Performing arts minor expected to attract variety of students

By University Communications
February 2, 2016
Anna Gaede, front row center, is a member of the Symphonic Band and is pursuing the new performing arts minor.

Photo: Anna Gaede, front row center, is a member of the Symphonic Band
and is pursuing the new performing arts minor.

With spirited performances by bands, choirs and theater, the performing arts have been a treasured part of the student experience for more than 100 years at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

Along with the joy of performing, students also have been able to earn credit for participating.

The performing arts, however, have never been on the university’s academic marquee — until now. An effort led by several professors has raised the level of performing arts visibility on campus with a new 18-credit minor, which debuted in the 2015 fall semester.

Students can earn up to six of the credits for the minor through participation in band, choir or theater.

Paul Calenberg“When we tell students they can minor in performing arts, you see a spark in their eyes because they can continue performing if they enjoyed it in high school,” said Paul Calenberg, UW-Stout Theatre director and chair of the department of communication studies, foreign languages and performing arts.

Eight new courses are being offered in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to support the minor. Many of the courses also can be taken to fulfill general education requirements.

Calenberg, band director Aaron Durst and choir director Jerry Hui, along with Jennifer Sansfacon in theater, have been the key professors behind the development of the minor, along with Maria Alm, CAHSS dean.

They believe in the intrinsic academic value of the courses, see the career connections to many of UW-Stout’s majors and expect that the minor also will raise the skill level of the performing arts groups on campus.

“The performing arts round you out as an individual,” Calenberg said. “They’re an exploration of the human condition.”

Jerry Hui

Hui, academic adviser for the minor, agrees. “Having that performing arts outlet is important for many students.”

Close to 150 students are participating this year in band, choir and theater.

As a polytechnic university, UW-Stout is a good fit for performing arts courses, which align with the university’s mission of learning by doing. For example, the new Stagecraft course, which examines stage building and technology, could appeal to students majoring in construction, technology education and industrial design, Calenberg said.

The Music in Media course has value for students majoring in entertainment design; game design and development; and hotel, restaurant and tourism management, said Hui. Music plays a role in video games, films and commercial spaces.

New upper level courses include Music Theory, Special Topics in Music, Digital Sound Studio and the Directing and Acting Process.

“There are many students who want to learn more about the performing arts but not make it their primary focus of study,” Durst said. “Instead, this minor allows them the opportunity to engage with the performing arts in a way that enhances their major.”

Band member calls minor a ‘natural’ fit

One of the 16 students already enrolled in the minor is Anna Gaede, a junior from Chippewa Falls. She plays clarinet in the Symphonic Band and tenor sax in the Blue Devil Jazz Project.

Aaron Durst

She is pursuing the minor in part because she hopes to teach music therapy; her major is vocational rehabilitation. “Being in the music minor is going to help me accomplish that goal,” she said.

“Music is something I’ve always had a passion about, and I knew it was something I wanted to continue when I started college. It just felt natural that I needed to be in the minor,” Gaede added.

Being involved in band has helped her learn how to set goals and develop time management skills by preparing for performances and learning how to balance homework, band practice and practicing her instruments, she said.

“I strongly feel that the performing arts minor will benefit anyone. I feel it challenges people to use their critical thinking skills. No matter what direction you go with the performing arts minor — vocal, instrumental or theater — you will learn skills to benefit you,” Gaede said.

UW-Stout offers 48 undergraduate majors and more than 50 minors.



First: Paul Calenberg

Second: Jerry Hui

Third: Aaron Durst