Music Engages Students in Campus Settings

Inaugural year of Music in the Neighborhoods offers distinct cultural experiences for students across campus.

An idea to help students at Michigan State University experience cultures beyond their own grew into a handful of lively on-campus events during Spring Semester 2014 thanks to the MSU Neighborhoods Initiative and the College of Music.

About 800 students attended Music in the Neighborhoods—a series of five events in each of the distinct campus neighborhoods including the Rivertrail, North, Brody, South and East neighborhoods. Each event focused on a different region of the world and included music and food from Asian, Middle Eastern, European, Latin American, and Jewish cultures. Some also featured dance and art.

“Music in the Neighborhoods is an excellent cross-cultural event,” says MSU student Ryan Sanchez-Erebia. “If you like music, food, and people this is a must.”

Sanchez-Erebia was among 275 students from 13 countries who completed surveys and provided feedback after attending one or more of the events. The feedback, say coordinators, was overwhelmingly positive and reflected the intent to provide students the chance to step outside their comfort zones and experience the cultural diversity that exists on campus.

“Students said over and over that they had learned things by listening to live music,” says Rhonda Buckley, associate dean for outreach and engagement and executive director of the Community Music School. “The majority told us that they had planned to attend to enjoy music, food, and socializing, and said they really got immersed in the culture and experience.”

Musical line-ups featured a Chinese orchestra, an Arabic fusion band, opera theater, a salsa band, and a Klezmer ensemble—all with students from the MSU College of Music. Attendees could also learn about featured regions and culture from registered student groups and pick up information on various MSU study abroad opportunities.

Buckley says organizers are leveraging student feedback to have even more impact during the Fall 2014 series. Funding for Music in the Neighborhoods is provided by the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and Services, Office of Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, and the College of Music. For more information, contact the College of Music Outreach and Engagement Office at 517-432-7371.

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