Sounds of singing and piano music coming from the first floor of Lewis House likely isn’t coming from any of the residents of the men’s dormitory at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.
More likely the music can be traced to one of five practice rooms for students who are minoring in music.
The 18-credit music minor is new and was launched in August. Classes within the minor include music theory, sight singing, musical theater history and the choice to be part of the chorale, pep band, chamber choir or vocal jazz ensemble.
Professors say the Lewis House facilities are a “Band-Aid,” a temporary place to practice, but it’s still a big step for the college’s music program, said Kip Taisey, who founded the minor.
Taisey joined the college in 2015 after working as an actor for 10 years, including five years in New York City, according to his biography.
His biography states:
Taisey has toured and worked with numerous theatre companies including, Asolo Repertory Theatre Company, Seaside Music Theatre, Orlando Repertory Theatre, Prather Entertainment Group and The Depot Theatre Company. Taisey has also worked in voice over, television and continues to study his craft by taking classes and performing when possible.
Taisey’s choral training and experience lies in the chamber setting as well as vocal jazz, having studied with and learned from master teachers/practitioners like Dave Barduhn, Vijay Singh, Kirk Marcy and Dr. Karyl Carlson. He has arrangements and compositions published through Sound Music Publications.
He holds an MFA in Musical Theatre from University of Central Florida and a BM in Choral Music Education from Central Washington University.
“I think the students that have been here and have been involved in music before there was a formal degree offering are really starting to feel like there’s a new level of legitimacy to it bc they do have dedicated practice space,” Taisey said. “That alone is a big deal.”
In the future, Taisey hopes the music program will have its own facility as it continues to grow. So far, six students are enrolled in the program, but Taisey said he’s received verbal confirmation from about 30 students who said they would add the minor.
Taisey’s long term goal for the music minor is for it to become a major with concentrations in piano and voice. But to start, Taisey said it was important for the program to get off the ground and officially become part of the college and the community.
“We’re a college that likes to believe that we serve in the liberal arts tradition and I think as a liberal arts institution, we need to have a music program on campus first and foremost,” he said. “To give the students in musical theater the skills they need to succeed professionally, they need formal training in music. So that was the major push behind it.”
Getting the minor established took some time, but was widely supported by faculty and students, Taisey said. The one condition that the college’s Board of Trustees set was that the minor needed its own financial backing. The Kenan Family Foundation came through with the funding once the Curriculum Committee, Faculty Senate and Board of Trustees had considered the minor. Taisey said he’s grateful.
It was a long process, and it was arduous, but it was never a process that i felt uncertain about. I think I had widespread support from the beginning. Students wanted it, faculty wanted it. They all agree that Flagler should have a music program. Just knowing that we have the financial support to make it happen, and to support it the way it should be supported was most people’s, including my major concern. I think it has the necessary administrative support, faculty support, student support and I think eventually it will lead to getting the community support as well.
Taisey hopes Flagler’s music minor will become a regionally renowned program, and he expects residents of St. Augustine to get something out of it as well.
“It’s a language that whether or not somebody is fluent in it, everybody responds to it. Everybody has human instinct connected to music,” Taisey said. “It’s something that’s just innate to every human being and we respond to it at a gut level. That alone draws people in from not just the student body, but from the surrounding community. It brings joy and communication to all walks of life.”