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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Commentary: Heard but not seen

The+Texas+A%26amp%3BM+Womens+Chorus+performed+underneath+the+Century+Tree+for+Buthayna+Al+Dagher+on+Feb.+22%2C+2022.
Photo by Photo by Pilar Ibarra

The Texas A&M Women’s Chorus performed underneath the Century Tree for Buthayna Al Dagher on Feb. 22, 2022.

We have all watched the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band march in complex formations across Kyle Field during football season, their instruments glinting in the sun with the sound of fanatic cheering following each routine. Their musical duo, the Singing Cadets, nicknamed “The Voice of Aggieland,” always garner great attention and praise for their impressive performances in spiffy uniforms. But what about the other bands, choirs and orchestras?
Many people are completely unaware of the fact that Texas A&M has any other music groups besides the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band and the Singing Cadets. In reality, these two exist alongside four concert bands, two jazz bands, a dance orchestra, two university orchestras, an all-women’s chorus and a mixed chorus which collectively comprise A&M’s music department. A diverse catalog, yet most wholly unrecognized.
Whenever I tell people I’m a member of A&M’s mixed chorus, the Century Singers, I’m always met with surprise and confusion. I have yet to meet a student or professor who knows about the choir before I tell them about it. Through these interactions, I’ve grown to realize that even those who are interested in music have very little to no knowledge of A&M’s music department — an issue which I believe needs to be addressed.
While I understand that A&M is a university renowned for its STEM programs and football, the over 70,000 students that comprise the Aggie community have diverse interests and passions.
Whether it be a middle school band or parent-enforced piano lessons that sparked an interest in music, countless students — future engineers and doctors alike — enter college with an affinity for the fine arts.
In my own experience, music has been part of who I am for as long as I can remember. In the fourth grade, I landed my very first solo in my school’s annual Veterans Day recital. While the grainy camcorder video of the performance now makes for a funny, yet slightly embarrassing, conversation, it also captures the day in which I found my passion for music.
Ten years, seven choirs and many solos later, I still love to sing. From elementary through college, choir has been like a second home to me. I’ve made lifelong friends who share the same passion and have been given the opportunity to explore the vast world that five simple music staff lines have to offer. Whenever I’m stressed due to classwork or other matters, stepping foot into the choir room and building beautiful chords, clapping along to catchy rhythms or laughing at out-of-tune measures with the other singers around me makes everything feel okay.
I’m certain that Aggies of all musical backgrounds can agree or have experienced something similar.
For this reason and many more, A&M should dedicate more effort into promoting and supporting fine arts programs. While cadet-centered music groups receive plenty of attention, the other bands, choirs and orchestras go relatively unnoticed. As a result, students are less likely to become involved.
I’ve talked to numerous friends and peers who love to sing or play an instrument but were unsure of how to pursue these interests in college. Personally, the only reason I’m involved in A&M’s choir activities is because I intensively researched the university’s music program before applying — otherwise I wouldn’t have known they existed. If A&M invested more into the fine arts, this wouldn’t be the case. With a larger platform, music groups like the jazz ensembles and women’s chorus would be more accessible, encouraging students to pursue their passions and find a creative outlet — an invaluable opportunity in the face of academic pressure and stress.
Another factor that fuels the lack of attention devoted to the music department is the hierarchy within it. For instance, the Singing Cadets often overshadows the Women’s Chorus or Century Singers. The Cadets receive more attention and promotion, even at events that include other choirs.
Last spring semester, all three A&M choirs had the honor of singing at the Muster ceremony. However, the only choir credited on the worldwide live stream was the Singing Cadets. During the Women’s Chorus and Singing Cadet’s national tour to Disney World in May, the first venue didn’t know who the Women’s Chorus was and didn’t even have enough food for them.
Although the Singing Cadets carry an important legacy and history as A&M’s first choir, it’s counterproductive for the music department as a whole to treat other music groups with partiality. As demonstrated in these situations, doing so causes groups to go completely unnoticed and underappreciated, minimizing the likelihood that students will discover and join them.
However, these issues ring true for the fine arts in general, not just at A&M. Throughout my experience in choir, the fine arts were always greatly underfunded and pushed to the side. While sports teams and academic organizations typically receive great praise and validation, school administration and even family members disregard the important role music plays in people’s lives. Furthermore, it’s been shown over the years that school funding cuts tend to have the same effect: the fine arts always lose.
Why is this the status quo? Yes, science and math are essential, but the creativity and self expression that music and art provide are equally instrumental.
With that being said, shifting an entire society’s attitude toward the fine arts is admittedly difficult. However, change at A&M is considerably less daunting.
Investing more into the fine arts and making an effort to promote all groups to build a more united and balanced music community would be greatly beneficial to all Aggies. These changes would support involvement in the fine arts and encourage students to pursue their passions, hobbies and interests.
After all, one thing is for certain. Whether it’s singing or playing an instrument, music matters.
Ana Sofia Sloane is a political science sophomore and an opinion writer for The Battalion.

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