As finals season inches its way around the corner, music majors tighten their strings and practice their high notes in preparation of this semester’s juries.
Showing off their talents, the students of the Keene State College’s music department will be performing one to two instruments in front of a jury of teachers.
All music majors attending Keene are required to have a primary and a secondary instrument, said KSC sophomore Nicholas So, and are graded on a final performance at the end of each semester. So said, “A jury is like an evaluation, where every semester, a panel of professors want to see how you’ve progressed on your main instrument.”
Going into his third jury, So described the juries as an accurate way of grading a performer: “I say as long as the judges know the students and know where they were last semester compared to this semester, I definitely think it’s a good way of grading.”
Each jury is different depending on which instrument the student plays. Vocal student Hannah Love said, “For vocal juries, depending on what year you are, you have a certain number of pieces that you have to prepare and memorize. From there you are put in front of the voice faculty who become your jury board, and they will pick your pieces randomly that they want you to perform.”
Music students spend time once a week in private lessons for each of their instruments.
Practicing preparing for his jury, So said, “Teachers don’t usually grade you on your applied lessons, because it is one on one time, they just want to see you get better. So this jury is your only grade for the class, it’s a pass or fail kind of thing.”
For a first-year, the idea of a pass-fail final can be very nerve wracking.
Rosemarie Webster, a first-year at KSC, is about to partake in her first jury.
To prepare, Webster said she has been practicing her piece, different scales and major and minor arpeggios. Webster said, “I am excited, but I am also extremely nervous.”
Even with her nerves, Webster said the jury can be an accurate measurement of a student’s abilities, saying, “I mean to take into account that students are going to be nervous, it is accurate. It is practice for later on in life when you go on to audition for orchestras and professional shows. The juries show where a student is more than a written test does.”
These students owe a lot of their ability to the department they study under, So explained.
“The music department doesn’t expect you to walk in being a virtuoso, but they work you to the bone so you walk out as a virtuous. It’s incredible, actually, the growth between a freshman and a senior is absolutely incredible,” So said.
So mentioned that the only thing that bothers him about the music program is the lack of student support for the arts. So said: “These [music majors] are working so hard but the students here a Keene don’t really know about us. Come watch our shows, you can’t watch juries because they are private evaluations, but some of the shows we put on are absolutely incredible, it would be a shame for students to just not go to them, some of them are free too.”
Adriana Daniel can be contacted at