With student bands like Vishnu Basement and SUPERTEEN recording albums and going on tour this summer, student music has been thriving as of late. In keeping with the particularly vibrant campus music scene, ViCE Student Music ensures campus singer-songwriters with the ability to perform for their fellow students on Wednesday Mug nights.
Student music at Vassar did not always have a constructive place to thrive. “When I was a freshman, Student Music was still kind of an undefined combination between Vassar Student Band Union, Vassar Singer-Songwriters, and ViCE After Hours,” said Sam Plotkin ’15, ViCE’s Student Music Chair.
Last year, ViCE Student Music evolved from an entertainment-based organization to a venue where students can perform original pieces.
“My job as Student Music Chair within ViCE is essentially to give student musicians the opportunity to play for their friends and peers in real actual live concerts, and not just quick guitar jams on the quad—not that those aren’t the best,” said Plotkin. “Everyone who wants a chance to play should have one. As someone who was denied the opportunity to play a showcase freshman year, I think I understand the value of that.”
ViCE Student Music assists campus artists in a number of ways. The organization’s main order of business is to give students the chance to perform their music live. In addition, ViCE Student Music has been recording these showcases for campus singer songwriters to use in order to promote their own artistry. Eventually, Student Music intends to produce a compilation album of these recordings.
These showcases also allow for a range of artists, from the experienced sort to the novices, to perform in an inclusive and open environment. “To be fair, I’ve never actually played with student music before but I’ve been to maybe two of the showcases this year,” said Owen Harrang ’16, who will perform in this Wednesday’s showcase. “It just seemed like a really casual group of people who are just showing off their stuff. There were all types of music: singer-songwriters, pop, country, folk. If nothing else, it’s interesting to see what kind of music other people are listening to and playing.”
Student Music provides campus musicians with entirely new and different experiences that ultimately allow them to grow as artists. “Writing a song in your room is different than playing it in a show, but all the people that go to it are all pretty much in the same boat so it’s a very relaxed environment,” said Harrang. “I think anyone who plays music should come and perform, because secretly it’s what everyone who picks up a guitar wants to do.”
The casual nature of the series also allow for artists to have an experimental approach to their performances.
Sam Diffenbaugh ’14 said, “This last showcase I made the set list a few hours beforehand and played a bunch of stuff I had never played in public and just written. It was really liberating (not to be too cliché) to just play songs without having any idea where they are going or how I’m going to wrap them up. It’s a fun challenge to realize halfway through a song that you’ve never played the whole thing and you haven’t Googled the tabs for the ending.”
Apart from gaining performance confidence and skill, the series encourages students to develop their sets and collaborate with other musicians.
“Everyone was having so much fun, and it was the best kind of atmosphere for making music,” Plotkin said. “It was the kind of environment where enough friends are there making you laugh and cheering you on that you just forget how to be nervous.”