Strike up the band and sing it loud: Simpson’s music department has been designated one of the top 100 music programs in the country.
Simpson is one of only two colleges or universities in Iowa to be recognized (the other is Dordt College) in the ranking by BearShare, a peer-to-peer file sharing application.
“The rankings have been compiled by BearShare in an effort to encourage students to pursue their dreams through music careers,” a company spokesman said. “We’ve listed and described the nation’s most prestigious music programs as an aid for students to narrow down their search for the best music schools in the country.”
Schools are ranked in no particular order. Simpson is included with music programs at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, the Berklee College of Music in Boston and the Juilliard School in New York.
Tim McMillin, chair of the Simpson music department, said the national recognition is appreciated and represents a team effort.
“The thing that makes music at Simpson such a special experience is the ‘big school’ opportunities that our students have lavished upon them within the ‘small school’ environment,” he said. “It truly is the best of both worlds, where students have huge opportunities paired with the individual attention and guidance that a small, private college setting allows.”
Those “big school” performing opportunities at Simpson include four choral ensembles, three instrumental ensembles plus instrumental chamber music options, two fully staged and produced opera performances each year, and a fantastic faculty of experts in their various areas.
“All of these resources are geared strictly toward our undergraduate students,” McMillin said. “Our students don’t compete with Masters and Doctoral students for these opportunities, and you don’t find ‘graduate student only’ teachers at Simpson. All studios are open to our undergraduate majors. “
In addition, Simpson’s music education students enjoy two internationally-known guest clinicians each year in the college’s Workshops in Music Education series.
“Our instrumental students enjoy the ability to work with world-class visiting clinicians and artists regularly through our festivals and honor band experiences,” he said. “Our vocal students enjoy performing in two operas each year with professional sets, costumes, and a nationally-known guest stage director this year, master classes with visiting artists, and numerous choral-orchestral masterwork opportunities with top-notch orchestras.
“In order to be successful at Simpson, a student just needs to show up and be ready to absorb the myriad special opportunities and experiences that are part of our ‘small school,’” McMillin said.