Westminster Choir College is truly a unique place. The intimate campus setting, the opportunity to sing with some of the world’s best orchestras in the greatest concert halls, the excellence of the faculty and immersion into the musical world: All these factors and many more contribute to Westminster’s reputation as one of the world’s leading music conservatories. These are all reasons why I love Westminster, and these are also reasons why the school’s nickname is “Stressminster.”
Stress can be found in any college setting. However, the kind of stress found at Westminster is just as unique as the school itself. While performance is an essential and amazing part of life as a music student, it is extremely mentally, physically and even emotionally exhausting. Our choirs make several run-outs, routinely perform in major cities such as Philadelphia and New York City and go on nationwide tours. During the school year, students often miss class to perform, and I personally spent more than half of my spring break in Virginia and North Carolina with our sophomore choir, Schola Cantorum, singing for more than five hours a day. I love performing and I love that I have so many opportunities to do so; however, we are not superhuman, and we can only go for so long without a rest.
While weekends are usually a restful time for most college students, spent with friends and getting caught up with schoolwork, at Westminster they are usually just as busy as the weekdays. Many students have church jobs and rehearsals on weekends, as well as homework and individual practicing. This leaves us tired, stressed and lacking the energy to start the new week. A fall break would not only give us a much-needed rest, but it would also give us something to work toward. It would give us a chance to recharge before the hectic holiday season, one of the busiest performance times for everyone. The stretch from the beginning of the school year until Thanksgiving is a daunting one; both teachers and students would benefit from the brief respite that fall break would provide.
I understand that Rider and Westminster are one community and part of the same university, and I fully support the efforts continually being made to bring the two campuses closer together. However, the differences between the two cannot and should not be ignored. Life on the Princeton campus is very different from life in Lawrenceville, and there are different demands on the students at each campus. However, I do not believe that we deserve a fall break and Lawrenceville does not. We all have stress, and a break from that stress would be healthy for music majors and non-music majors alike. I think it is time for us to step away from the fast-paced life of our society for a moment and take time to breathe deeply, relax and enjoy a fall break that we all deserve.
— Elise Brancheau
Sophomore, Vocal Performance