Most people would expect Olivet College music majors to be fully immersed in the department, and they are. But what may surprise you is that non-music majors also choose to make music their home away from home at Olivet.
“Music is an outlet, a mental break in your studies,” said Jeremy Duby, M.M., Olivet’s director of bands. “Over half of our instrumental musicians are not music majors; they are studying to be insurance agents, biologists and teachers. All were strong students in their high school music programs, and continuing to play is a natural fit for them.”
Senior Helen Macqueen is a sociology/anthropology major with a history minor. She plays oboe in the wind ensemble and tenor sax in the athletic band.
“I am at the Conservatory almost every day of the week,” said Macqueen. “Playing music helped me to meet a lot of friends on campus, and it’s a great outlet for stress.” She started playing piano at age five and began oboe lessons in fifth grade. “For me, music is fun,” she said. “My dad [1975 Olivet alumnus David Macqueen] was a band director and helped influence my love for music. I have really enjoyed watching and performing in campus concerts; both were great experiences for me.”
“The Olivet College music program welcomed me with open arms, and the faculty have always been willing to work with me,” she said. “I feel like family in the music department.”
Duby is in his first year as Olivet’s director of college bands. He brought back the marching band in the fall of 2015. The band plays at all the home football games and most of the men’s and women’s basketball games.
“We are a positive energy on campus,” said Duby. “I like to think the band played a significant role in the drive in school spirit during our women’s basketball team’s run in the playoffs.”
Many members of the band are also part of the Olivet College wind ensemble. Students must have high school experience playing an instrument and complete an audition to play in either band.
Duby works closely with the Olivet College academic enrollment specialists and follows their model for recruiting music majors. He focuses on building relationships with musicians all over the state. Duby is also the music director of the Warren Concert Band in Warren. He has 10 years of experience serving as jazz director to Harper Woods Secondary Schools, as well as director of bands at L’Anse Creuse-North and Sterling Heights high schools.
In addition, he often serves as an adjudicator and clinician for solo and ensemble festivals. “As high school students are preparing for festivals, I am there to help them prepare their final product,” he said.
Another way Duby is reaching out to potential future students is through a special high school honor band. On April 5, Olivet hosted 40 instrumental music students from 14 high schools across southern Michigan. High school band directors nominated students to the inaugural event.
“We rehearsed together, gave campus tours and allowed students to work directly with faculty,” said Duby. “Honor band gave them a chance to see how a class is run, what private lessons are like and basically what it’s like to be a music student at Olivet College. The final result was a concert performed at the Olivet Congregational Church.
“My goal was to make these students feel welcome and part of the Olivet College family,” concluded Duby. “Events like these are critical in building relationships and motivating students to select Olivet as their top choice. It is a great time to be at Olivet because of the rapidly developing vision for the program. We have a strong music history and are excited to rebuild the program, making it a center point of campus life again.”