JFL uses music to help students de-stress, all majors have opportunity to perform for others

Soft classical piano with gentle crescendos and delightful tunes can make a hard night of studying a little bit easier. For the past nine years, students have had the opportunity to share their musical talents with their peers in the library. 

In 2014, the Jerry Falwell Library (JFL) began “Instrumental Inspirations,” a program that allows students to play a mini concert in the library. This started after the School of Music gifted the library a grand piano. The JFL wanted to put the gift to good use and with the School of Music wanting an opportunity for students to perform, the program was born. 

“It just gives students an opportunity to display their talents and bless other people with (them),” Rachel Schwedt, a research and instruction librarian participating with the program, said. 

Some research also went into the creation of this program. Schwedt said that they wanted to be able to back the program with science. During this process, they found that scientific research had shown that music while studying had a positive effect on academic performance. 

Sophomore Leah McLemore, a psychology major with a child life specialist concentration, had the opportunity to play two concerts this semester. She plays piano and enjoyed the creative opportunity that the hobby provides, as well as the joy it brings. 

“Every time I’m playing (in the library), I always end up talking to someone who is like, ‘Oh I liked it’ and that is really sweet,” McLemore said. “It’s a good opportunity to meet different people and it is relaxing to do something else for an hour besides school.” 

McLemore sought out this opportunity after years of playing piano at her church back home.

Wanting to continue playing but not yet plugged into a church, she saw the advertisement and decided to audition. 

The program is open to students in any major who have a musical talent they wish to share with others. Students get to choose their own songs of any style as long as it is background music.  

The audition process requires students to submit a video of themselves playing for approval. Once approved, students can be put on the schedule to perform.

“Just audition,” McLemore said, after being asked what advice she would give to those who are interested.  “It’s super fun and it’s very low commitment. You don’t have to play that often and you only play for an hour.” 

Out of respect for students who are studying, the instrument guidelines have changed over time. Performance must not contain brass or require either speakers or a microphone. Most musicians play either the piano or string instruments. 

“Playing in the library creates a relaxing atmosphere for study and offers students an opportunity to display their giftings,” Schwedt said. 

The creation of this program was not only for those who play music to participate, but also an opportunity for anyone who loves to enjoy live music. Students can learn when an upcoming session will take place through advertisements on the library screens and posters throughout the library.  

Norman is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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