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Further cuts to arts classes would be devastating

POSTED December 8, 2009 10:28 p.m.
It may have come to your attention that there have been, and still are, drastic budget cuts considered for the arts at California State University, Stanislaus. As a Piano Performance major, I would be extremely devastated if such a thing would be allowed to happen. If these budget cuts were allowed to happen, all private lessons (meaning one-on-one time with an instructor specifically for that instrument) would be canceled, because nearly all instruments taught at CSU Stanislaus Department of Music are taught by part-time faculty. If the budget were to be cut, those positions would be the first to go. You see, for a musician to realize his or her full potential, there must be a great deal of time and effort invested in that individual. Every musician is different, and has different musical strengths and weaknesses. This is why musicians NEED one-on-one time with instructors. It is not uncommon to spend an entire 1/2 hour of a lesson on a single eight-bar phrase, discussing the nuances of phrasing, articulation, fingering (for those who play instruments), breath control, diction, and pronunciation (for vocalists).
The point that I am trying to make is that if such a cut were to happen, the Instrumental Performance major would virtually vanish. There would be absolutely no reason to continue going to school at CSU Stanislaus if a better musical education could be garnered in a junior college. Some people with less connection to the arts might not think this would be such a devastating blow, but there are other reasons why this could be awful. Let’s try a financial reason.
There are approximately 50 or so people in the music department who would have no reason to stay here if private lessons were cut (I’m rounding the numbers to make the math a little easier). These people are paying about $1,500 a semester to attend this august institution. If you multiply 50 by $1,500, you get the astonishing result of $75,000. Double that figure to get the amount of revenue lost each year, $150,000, if the cuts went through.
I do realize that if the cuts were to happen, there would likely be a net gain. There would, indeed, be money saved. But is that really the point? Is the CSU system really driven by profit? We are publicly funded for a reason. And that public funding and support is what we will need to continue: not just the Music Department, but the university as a whole. After the arts, what will be cut next? Athletics? Philosophy? History?
Perhaps what we need to do is avoid unnecessary expenditures at all. Things like landscaping, new signs (such as the one recently put up at the corner of Dels Lane and Monte Vista Boulevard), and cosmetic changes, like paint, fountains, etc. They are not necessary at this point. Our policy is, and should be, frugality, but perhaps it is misdirected. Perhaps we didn't need a football stadium for a hypothetical team that will not likely compete there for at least five years. Perhaps we should keep the Jazz Studies program, which consists of a fraction of the music students but makes a majority of the concert income. Perhaps we should think harder, and ask for more input when dealing with issues that will effect people’s entire careers.
— Geoffrey Baker-Matson
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