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Music Groups at MIT, Pt.2 by ARTalk

[by Jessica Noss '14, Guest Blogger] Decision time...

[by Jessica Noss ’14]

Unable to choose a single group, I decided to stay in MITWE, MITSO, and Techiya, at least for the first couple weeks. I ended up staying all semester, which turned out to be a very bad idea by the end of the semester. All three groups had their end-of-semester concerts on the same weekend, which coincided with end-of-semester projects, the last round of psets, and other hecticness. By the end of the semester, I knew I couldn’t stay in all three groups. But I really didn’t want to leave any of them, because they were all so much fun!

MITWE fall 2010, photo courtesy of The Tech.

I decided to quit either MITWE or MITSO, since Techiya was the only singing group, and I figured I could handle two groups.

The MITWE director, Dr. Fred Harris, is a great conductor. He’s very fun, energetic, and he comes up with the most ridiculous – yet appropriate – analogies. One of my favorites was when he was trying to explain how to be more expressive and what sort of mood the piece should have: “…more like a feather bed. Right now, you’re sleeping on a water mattress- only, it’s frozen.” Although MITWE rehearsed 7:30-10pm twice a week, it was just really fun. And in case you’re wondering, a “wind ensemble” is the same as a “band.” I think they call it MITWE (pronounced mit’-wee) just because it sounds nicer.

The MITSO director, Dr. Adam Boyles, is simply amazing. Words cannot describe why I love him as a director. He’s very professional, patient, and supportive. He pays attention to the tiniest musical details and fixes everything so that it’s perfect. His level of musicianship just makes me feel so lucky to be a part of MITSO.


After much debating, and much wishing I could stay in all three groups, I finally chose to stay in MITSO simply because it was less of a time commitment. As a wind player, I often don’t play in every piece, so I don’t have to go to the entire 7:30-10pm rehearsal twice a week. Also, playing in fewer pieces means less music to practice, which saves time.

Ironically, I ended up joining yet another group a couple weeks later. Chamber Chorus was looking for more altos, so I came to their rehearsal and got in without an official audition or having to sing solo! I guess sometimes music groups are just as desperate for members as I was originally desperate to be in groups. Also, there apparently aren’t very many people who want to rehearse at 9:30am. The Chamber Chorus (and Concert Choir) director, Dr. Bill Cutter, is yet another excellent conductor. With so many incredible singers (the ones who actually had to audition to get in) who can actually sight read pretty well, he can spend time on details like dynamics or when to say the final /s/ at the end of the word “place.” He also teaches us how to speak English – did you know “whisper” (and other words that begin with a “wh”) is actually pronounced “hwisper”? It’s amazing how much better a song sounds when everyone says the words the same way, with clear diction. Chamber Chorus is a really great group, and I still can’t believe I got in.

8 responses to “Music Groups at MIT, Pt.2”

  1. Anthony says:

    I’m trying to decide whether to join the Concert Choir, or one of the a cappella groups (either Chorollaries or Logs) I don’t know what to do!!!

  2. Anthony: I would audition for the Chorallaries and Logs, and the Concert Choir as a back-up. While Concert Choir is a very good group, it’s just not the same as an a capella group. If you’re lucky enough to get into the Chorallaries or Logs, definitely join! However, note that both of them are extremely hard to get into — even singers with years of training sometimes get rejected. You may want to consider auditioning for other a capella groups as well. All the a capella groups are very fun and social, and there are plenty of opportunities for solos, skits, and other fun things. If you prefer a more structured group with a professor directing, you should audition for Chamber Chorus, if it fits in your schedule (9:30-11am Tues/Thurs). Good luck!

  3. Very cool.

    Tangential question: how is the situation with practicing instruments- i.e. when/where can you practice? Does it depend on the dorm?

  4. Oh also, how did you manage the freshman credit limit with both MITWE and MITSO?

  5. Different Anthony:
    To get around the Freshman Credit limit you can take most performing art groups not for credit. My first semester I took a 6 unit seminar and MITSO (not for credit).

    If you are wondering how manageable work wise, I thought it wasn’t too much really. I more or less saw MITSO as a nice, enjoyable break in the week.

  6. different Anthony: Many dorms have a practice room that you can reserve. Depending on how loud your instrument is, what time you practice, and what your neighbors can tolerate, you may be able practice in your room. There are also practice rooms in Building 4 and piano rooms in the Student Center. Occasionally, they’ll all be full, but it’s usually not an issue. You’ll automatically get card access to these rooms when you join a group, or you can go to one of the music offices to request access.

    First semester, I took four classes (12 units each), MITSO for credit, and MITWE not for credit. MITSO, MITWE, Chamber Chorus, and Concert Choir are each 6 units. The freshman credit limit is 54 units for first semester, and I believe it’s 57 units for second semester.

    Hope that helps! smile

  7. Anthony says:

    Ah, I see. Thanks, Jessica & Nathan!