Amidst all of the minors on the University of Wisconsin-Stout stands the performing arts program. The advisor of this minor is Dr. Jerry Hui, an associate professor of music and the choir director at UW-Stout.
The performing arts minor was originally created in the fall of 2014. Students were first enrolled in it in the fall of 2015. The first graduates in this minor graduated in the fall of 2016.
“The whole idea was to enhance some of our other degrees on campus,” Dr. Aaron Durst, the director of bands at UW-Stout said. According to him, it was created with the entertainment design and game design programs in mind since music is a major part of them.
According to Dr. Hui, Paul Calenberg played a tremendous role in the minor’s creation. Calenberg is also the theater director at UW-Stout.
“[Stout] talks so much about being career-focused and hands-on and being very involved with your career as sort of the final product of your education,” Dr. Hui said. “Somehow things that are deemed fun, on the side, and not related to your career… sort of get shoved aside, and it’s a shame.”
Dr. Hui believes that creating the performing arts Minor has allowed many students to keep doing what they love once they reach college. Those involved with the minor’s creation wanted students to continue with what they learned in high school in a more structured way.
Each section of the performing arts minor—theater, band, and choir—has performances each semester. The theater program performs a play in the fall and a musical in the spring. Each band has its own concert. The two choirs have a joint performance.
These are not the only performances these groups participate in. According to Dr. Durst they are always looking for new opportunities to showcase their skills.
“Music has been a part of Stout since the early 1900s,” Dr. Durst said. “We’ve always had a long history of students involved in music and being part of the theater.”
According to Dr. Durst, there were many students involved in band, choir and theater even before the minor was made creating a desire for more courses in these areas. Dr. Durst also believes that the minor is great for students that have a predilection for performing arts but don’t want to pursue a career within that field.
As stated by Dr. Hui, there are many different types of students that are currently involved in this minor. It tends to attract students with majors that require a minor. There has also been a large number of game design majors—particularly on the computer science side. He believes that the wide range of majors is due to students coming from high school with a shared love they wish to continue.
“It pains me to think that a lot of students don’t realize that [the performing arms minor] exists,” Dr. Hui said. “Or they come to Stout thinking that because they have chosen a career that is not involving music or theater that they decided, ‘You know what? I’m going to put aside everything that I’ve really done before as a hobby, and I’ll just focus on my major now.’”
According to Dr. Durst, even with little or no experience, students can still get involved with the performing arts. For the theater program and the choir program, no experience is needed. For the band, minimal experience is required. He also believes it’s a great way for students to get involved on campus.
“We see music and theater as a part of not only [the] performing arts minor, but as a transition into community involvement, whether that be in a community theater or community band or community choir,” Dr. Durst said.
In Dr. Hui’s experience, many students in their final year at UW-Stout start missing the performing arts. According to him, they haven’t done these activities for so long that they don’t know how to return to them. He wants students to be able to continue experiencing the arts if it’s what they love to do.
“One of our goals is to encourage [experience in the performing arts] in our students—to stay active because the more likely they are to stay active in college, the more likely they are to stay active once they go out and become a professional member of society,” Dr. Durst said.
Dr. Hui wants students to know that there are ways students can continue to participate in the performing arts. He believes that they can be applied toward many different paths even outside of one’s career.
“[Students] participating in something that they really like in a structured way can really be a very beneficial part of their education, and we’re here to help if that interest is performing in a band or a choir or on-stage in theater,” Dr. Hui said. If you have an interest in performing arts, contact Dr. Hui at firstname.lastname@example.org.